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Does Local Government Matter?

Does Local Government Matter?: How Urban Policies Shape Civic Engagement

Elaine B. Sharp
Volume: 19
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Does Local Government Matter?
    Book Description:

    Employing policy feedback theory to a series of local government programs, Elaine B. Sharp shows that these programs do have consequences with respect to citizens’ political participation. With this clear-eyed analysis, Sharp finds that local governments’ social program activities actually dampen participation of the have-nots, while cities’ development programs reinforce the political involvement of already-privileged business interests. _x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8145-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction. Government Programs Matter: Political Learning, Policy Feedback, and the Policy-Centered Approach
    (pp. 1-28)

    Does government matter? To many people, the answer to this question may seem obvious, especially if the focus is on either the federal or the state government. When officials in power take us into war, there are major consequences with respect to national security, the image of the nation in the world, the country’s relationships with various foreign powers, spending commitments, and for those who serve in the nation’s military and their families, the largest of personal consequences. Efforts to reform health care in America reveal that despite their flaws and problems, Medicare and Medicaid are crucial programmatic anchors for...

  5. 1 The Participatory Impacts of County Governments′ Means-Tested and Universal Social Programs
    (pp. 29-52)

    As noted in the introduction, policy-centered theory with its emphasis on the ways in which public programs shape subsequent political participation developed primarily in studies of major, national-level social welfare programs. The most dramatic empirical support for policy-centered theory involves the finding that experience with means-tested programs has a chilling effect on political participation whereas experience with universal social welfare programs encourages political involvement. This chapter begins the task of applying policy-centered theory tolocalgovernment with a test of whether local government involvement in social welfare programs of the two types (means tested and universal) has the same pattern...

  6. 2 City Government and Neighborhoods: Intentional Empowerment and Reactionary Mobilization
    (pp. 53-76)

    Neighborhood-level political involvement is a less heavily studied form of participation than voting and, from some points of view, perhaps a narrower and less interesting form of political participation. However, a substantial case has been made for the importance of participation in neighborhood-based organizations, especially by those touting face-to-face involvement as a stepping stone for social capital formation (Putnam 2000) and inclusive, participative democracy (Berry, Portney, and Thomson 1993; Thomson 2001). Neighborhood-level politics is also important because of the less uplifting side of neighborhood organizations: they can be insular, enmeshed in factionalism and turf conflicts (Meyer and Hyde 2004), biased...

  7. 3 Community Policing: A Reform Policy for Police Responsiveness
    (pp. 77-114)

    Chapter 2 showed that local government responsiveness to neighborhoods in a broad sense can have unintended, demobilizing effects on citizen involvement with neighborhood associations. In that chapter, we saw how government responsiveness could stem from a variety of programs, policies, or actions, including the creation of neighborhood-level governance structures with powers to represent neighborhood interests, procedural requirements that give the neighborhood official input on land-use issues, or even a pattern of receptivity to neighborhood requests and complaints across an array of routine matters.

    This chapter focuses on community policing–a particular program that, at least in theory, entails focused responsiveness...

  8. 4 City Government, Economic Development Incentives, and Business Influence
    (pp. 115-144)

    For critics of what is often calledcorporate welfare, there can surely be no more offensive comparison than that between the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) welfare program in the United States and the subsidy-focused, “supply side” (Eisinger 1988) version of development policy that has characterized state and local government treatment of businesses for years. Welfare as addressed in TANF is not only means tested, and therefore targeted to those who on income grounds are demonstrably in need of it, but also encrusted with a host of performance and accountability requirements meant to separate the deserving from the undeserving...

  9. 5 The Impact of Development Incentive Policy Reform: A Case Study
    (pp. 145-178)

    Does the character of city governments’ business subsidy policy shape political action and community involvement by local business executives? The preceding chapter presented some evidence that it does. Data from nationwide city surveys suggests an inverted U-shaped relationship between the extent to which a city adopts reforms or controls on business subsidies and the business leaders’ political and community activation. Although the pattern appears to apply to smaller rather than larger cities, there is enticing evidence that the local businesses sector is most mobilized when city government offers incentives but has moved beyond little or no requirements associated with those...

  10. 6 Policy-Centered Theory and Urban Programs: Community Effects in a Global Context
    (pp. 179-200)

    Policy-centered theory invites us to consider the possibility that public policies and the government programs that embody them may have important consequences for democracy. Government programs can distribute benefits in a way that subsequently mobilizes stakeholders or in a way that has a chilling effect on political participation; they can build civic skills and provide other assets for political mobilization, frame problems for the political agenda, reinforce the social construction of various groups, help define politically relevant identities, and either support or undermine democratic institutions (Mettler and Soss 2004, 62–63). The idea that government programs can either enhance or...

  11. Appendix A: The Study Cities and Their 2000 Populations
    (pp. 201-202)
  12. Appendix B: Additional Detail on Content Analysis Procedures and Coding Rules
    (pp. 203-206)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 207-210)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 211-228)
  15. Index
    (pp. 229-233)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 234-237)