The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina laid bare the tragedy of
American cities. What the storm revealed about the social
conditions in New Orleans shocked many Americans. Even more
shocking is how widespread these conditions are throughout much of
urban America. Plagued by ineffectual and inegalitarian governance,
acute social problems such as extreme poverty, and social and
economic injustice, many American cities suffer a fate similar to
that of New Orleans before and after the hurricane. Gentrification
and corporate redevelopment schemes merely distract from this
disturbing reality. Compounding this tragedy is a failure in urban
analysis and scholarship.
Little has been offered in the way of solving urban America's
problems, and much of what has been proposed or practiced remains
profoundly misguided, in David Imbroscio's view. In Urban
America Reconsidered, he offers a timely response. He urges a
reconsideration of the two reigning orthodoxies in urban studies:
regime theory, which provides an understanding of governance in
cities, and liberal expansionism, which advocates regional policies
linking cities to surrounding suburbs. Declaring both approaches to
be insufficient-and sometimes harmful-Imbroscio illuminates another
path for urban America: remaking city economies via an array of
local economic alternative development strategies (or LEADS).
Notable LEADS include efforts to build community-based
development institutions, worker-owned firms, publicly controlled
businesses, and webs of interdependent entrepreneurial enterprises.
Equally notable is the innovative use of urban development tools to
generate indigenous, stable, and balanced growth in local
economies. Urban America Reconsidered makes a strong case
for the LEADS approach for constructing progressive urban regimes
and addressing America's deepest urban problems.
Subjects: Political Science
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