In the spotlight

Culture Wars and City Politics, Revisited: Local Councils and the Australia Day Controversy

By Rachel Busbridge (Australian Catholic University) and Mark Chou (Australian Catholic University) | The so-called ‘culture wars’ – conflicts between progressives and conservatives over morality, values and identity – are often considered purely national in scope. When James Davison Hunter first popularized the concept in the early 1990s, he had in mind a clear vision of an all-encompassing conflict between the forces of orthodoxy and progressivism over the ‘meaning of America’. Yet the fiercest manifestations of culture war conflicts very often occur in localities, turning ostensibly national debates into issues that cities and towns have to deal with. Indeed, recent events – the murder of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter protests, the COVID-19 pandemic – have only served to underscore the increasingly localized dimensions of culture war skirmishes and the challenges they present for local and municipal governance. Read More
  • A Note from the Editors

    June 18, 2020

    We have all been rocked by the murder of George Floyd. Transformational change to policing in cities throughout the world has been demanded for decades, but the racism, excessive force, and unaccountable behavior have persisted alongside discriminatory practices in other areas of urban life - work, housing, health, education - that have long denied life and livelihoods to Black and Indigenous people of color. This time must be different. As we know better than most, truly transformational change is not achieved without a real understanding of the problem or potential solutions. Our community of urban scholars has long been engaged in the work needed to make clear how these issues harm our society, and most especially people of color. From time to time, we will highlight research from UAR to help your efforts to push our knowledge forward and make this time different. Read More
  • The Forum is pleased to announce its new Book Review space, edited and curated by former UAR co-editors Jill Tao and Antonio Tavares. Read More
  • By Rachel M. Krause (University of Kansas), Christopher V. Hawkins (University of Central Florida), and Angela Y. S. Park (Kansas State University) | In the wake of the United States’ initiation of its formal withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, the continued commitment of city governments is serving, for some, as a beacon of hope. However, although there are many examples of cities achieving significant reductions in their greenhouse gas emissions, individual local governments cannot generate the necessary scale of changes alone. The emphasis that both scholarly and practitioner-focused studies place on understanding the dynamics that facilitate successful inter-jurisdictional and inter-organizational collaborations around local climate and energy objectives reflect this recognition. Read More
  • Editor's Note: In this post, UAR Co-Editor Yue Zhang shares her article that was originally published in the Spring 2020 newsletter of The Organized Section In Comparative Politics of the American Political Science Association (APSA). Read More
  • We are pleased to announce that our two-year Journal Impact Factor score has increased to 2.192 and our five-year impact score increased to 2.551. This is the fourth consecutive year our scores have increased and these are our best numbers yet. Thank you to everyone who supports UAR as an author, reviewer, or reader! Read More
  • By Seongkyung Cho (ASU), Karen Mossberger (ASU), David Swindell (ASU), and J. David Selby (ASU) | Citizen consultation and participation in decision making at the local level has a long history in the U.S., rooted in traditions such as the New England town meeting. In recent years, however, new digital platforms have emerged to facilitate online town hall meetings or to gather collective input on policy issues in new ways. Who are the governments experimenting with these participatory innovations? We explore this question using US national survey data that examines use of these platforms, goals and activities for civic engagement, and practices for local innovation. Read More
  • Authors have asked for them, and we are pleased to provide these updated and expanded descriptions of the four research formats accepted by UAR. Read More
  • By Rebecca Goldstein (Harvard University), Michael W. Sances (University of Memphis), and Hye Young You (New York University) | One aspect of recent criticism of police departments has been centered on the aggressive imposition and collection of fees, fines, and civilly forfeited assets. The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigation of the Ferguson, Missouri police department, for example, revealed that a key driver of the behavior of the Ferguson police was the desire to generate municipal revenue by issuing traffic tickets and imposing fees. More broadly, a growing body of evidence indicates that local police departments are being used to provide revenue for municipalities by imposing and collecting fees, fines, and asset forfeitures: Census of Governments data from 2012 shows that about 80 percent of American cities with law enforcement institutions derive at least some revenue from fees, fines, and asset forfeitures, with about 6 percent of cities collecting more than 10 percent of their revenues from fines in 2012 (Sances and You 2017). Are the police engaged in this fee and fine collection at the expense of other important activities? Read More
  • Editor's Note: This post by Edward Goetz (University of Minnesota) is the last of three posts based on the Exclusionary Zoning Colloquy published in 2019. The entire colloquy is available here. If you missed the first post by David Imbroscio (University of Louisville) you can read that here, and the second post by Katherine Levine Einstein here. Read More
  • Editor's Note: This post by Katherine Levine Einstein (Boston University) is the second of three posts based on the Exclusionary Zoning Colloquy published in 2019. The entire colloquy is available here. Check back soon for another response from Edward Goetz (University of Minnesota). If you missed the first post by David Imbroscio (University of Louisville) you can read that here. Read More
  • Editor's Note: This post by David Imbroscio (University of Louisville) is the first of three posts based on the Exclusionary Zoning Colloquy published in 2019. The entire colloquy is available here. Check back soon for responses from Katherine Levine Einstein (Boston University) and Edward Goetz (University of Minnesota). Read More
  • By By Gregg Colburn (University of Washington), Rebecca Walter (University of Washington), and Deirdre Pfeiffer (Arizona State University) | A well-documented consequence of the recent foreclosure crisis was a pronounced dislocation in the single-family home market. Large institutional buyers backed with Wall Street capital emerged to capitalize on this dislocation. These firms acquired hundreds of thousands of single-family homes to create a pool of institutionally-owned single-family rentals (SFRs) in markets across the U.S. Existing research highlights both positive and negative effects of this investor activity. Analyses suggest that home purchases and subsequent investments by these actors have reduced vacancies and aided recovery from the housing bust, however, studies also show associations between institutional investment in SFRs and increases in home prices and evictions. Read More
  • By Yooil Bae (Fulbright University Vietnam) and Yu-Min Joo (National University of Singapore) | In 2012, South Korean singer Psy’s Gangnam Style became a global sensation, earning three billion views on YouTube. In several interviews, Psy mentioned that the theme of the song was intended to satirize the extravagant and speculative culture of the place (Jung and Li 2014). With his motto to “dance cheesy, dress classy,” the music video showed Gangnam’s trendy and luxurious lifestyle, as well as the high-rise properties of the wealthy. Indeed, Gangnam has become an emblematic and successful example of Korea’s compressed economic development. At the same time, it also began to symbolize deepening urban segregation, as Gangnam is concentrated with the super-middle class with socio-economic, and even political, superiority in South Korea. Similar urban scenes—dubbed as “Gangnam-ization” (Park and Jung 2017)—have also sprouted up in other metropolises of rapidly developing countries, including China and Indonesia. Read More
  • By Scott A. Bollens (University of California, Irvine) | In this time of increased hostility and competition among groups defined by ethnic, religious, and nationalistic identity, I contribute to our understanding of fractured cities and nations in my UAR article, “National Policy Agendas Encounter the City: Complexities of Political-Spatial Implementation”. In examining two urban areas of enduring and deep inter-group violence, I reveal the contentious relationship that exists between the national political realm of policy agenda setting and the urban realm of implementation. I focus on the city and its role in perpetuating or attenuating inter-group conflict. I concentrate on how urban dynamics are both shaped by national political goals and capable of disrupting the implementation of these national programmes. I investigate two urban settings—Israel’s program aimed at sole sovereign control of Jerusalem and Northern Ireland’s effort to build peace in Belfast. I carried out seven months of in-country research and 122 interviews in 2015 and 2016. Read More
  • By Oliver D. Meza (CIDE), Eduardo José Grin (Getulio Vargas Foundation), Antônio Sérgio Fernandes (Federal University of Bahia), and Fernando Luiz Abrucio (Fundação Getúlio Vargas) | Metropolises, not states, are the ones capable of saving the world from its most pernicious problems. This common theme is frequently present in the rhetoric of multi-national organizations echoed in newspapers’ headlines. Clearly, cities and metropolitan regions have advantages over other levels of governments in terms of their proximity and policy tools to face problems such as water shortage, waste management, human security, housing, urban mobility, among others. For most countries, especially in the developing world, these topics present formidable challenges into reaching sustainable models of livelihood due to the lack of intermunicipal cooperation. The real question is whether metropolitan regions are actually capable of cooperating to address these and other problems independent to the surrounding institutional context. Metropolitan regions are embodied in a political and administrative context, largely shaped by supra-local levels of government. Read More
  • By Davia Downey (Grand Valley State University), Sarah Reckhow (Michigan State University), and Joshua Sapotichne (Michigan State University) | In 2018, the City of Detroit kicked off fundraising for the Strategic Neighborhood Fund, an effort to attract private funds to support infrastructure improvements in city neighborhoods. This initiative came five years after Detroit went through the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. Based on major media accounts, this bankruptcy was a rousing success, ushering in the rebirth of a great American city. As a feature article in National Geographic put it: “Tough, real, and cheap, Detroit, with the nation’s largest municipal bankruptcy behind it, is suddenly attractive to investors, innovators, and would-be fixers, especially young adventurers.” The credit ratings agencies seemed to agree; by February 2019 the city’s bond rating had made considerable progress towards regaining investment grade status. Yet the city’s Strategic Neighborhood Fund points to another element of Detroit’s story. Underlying the signs of progress, the city’s recovery is incomplete, narrowly distributed, and heavily dependent on the support of private philanthropy and nonprofits in the city. Read More
  • In advance of the research that will soon be coming forth about the varied impacts of COVID-19 on our lives, UAR Co-Editor Peter Burns has identified several UAR articles that engage issues he thinks will receive a lot of attention from urban scholars. This “virtual” issue on Disasters and Economic Shocks highlights previously published articles on emergency management networks, inequities in public services, public health, immigration policy, and city responses to economic shocks. Read More
  • By Roberto Cabaleiro and Enrique Buch | The public sphere is a sector in which women have been scarce in elected political positions until very recent times. There are global and country-specific factors explaining the difficulties women face in trying to attain political office: cultural norms, gender roles, party practices, lack of financial support, and a traditionally masculine work environment. Analyzing 174 countries, the average proportion of women in parliaments nearly doubled between 1995 and 2015. In many cases, gender quota systems were applied to increase the participation of women in political chambers. Read More
  • By Lin Zhang, Pieter Hooimeijer, Yanliu Lin, and Stan Geertman | Public participation in urban planning is a contested issue in China. Despite the official rhetoric of a harmonious society and changes in the legal framework that formalize the involvement of citizens in planning processes, many hold that the current practice is highly symbolic and aimed at placating the population rather than at empowering it. External forcing of the current system by environmental threats, social change and technological innovation may be more pertinent than the desire to change the system from within. However, this might overlook the role of the professionals. We expect our study to contribute to the international debates on the management of urban affairs in general and on public participation in urban planning in particular by exploring these in an authoritarian context. Read More
  • By Brandon Harris | A study conducted by park and recreation researchers at the universities of Arizona, Utah, North Carolina State and Clemson on the effects of neighborhood stigma on greenway use recently found that when greenways are located in neighborhoods occupied by residents of color, stigma may lead to avoidance, discrimination, and exclusion. Read More

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About the Forum

Urban Affairs Review is a peer-reviewed, bi-monthly journal focused on questions of politics, governance, and public policy specifically as they relate to cities and/or their regions. The Urban Affairs Forum is a space for leading thinkers about urban issues to share their research, ideas, and experiences. Visit us for insights on local and regional politics, urban governance, and public policy that are based in the research findings of our diverse community of scholars and practitioners. You can learn more about the Forum here.

 

We are interested in Forum contributions about urban, local, and regional topics. If you would like to contribute, email Jered Carr at jbcarr@uic.edu.

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