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Equity, Growth, and Community

Equity, Growth, and Community: What the Nation Can Learn from America's Metro Areas OPEN ACCESS

Chris Benner
Manuel Pastor
Copyright Date: 2015
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1ffjnd4
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  • Book Info
    Equity, Growth, and Community
    Book Description:

    In the last several years, much has been written about growing economic challenges, increasing income inequality, and political polarization in the United States. This book argues that lessons for addressing these national challenges are emerging from a new set of realities in America's metropolitan regions: first, that inequity is, in fact, bad for economic growth; second, that bringing together the concerns of equity and growth requires concerted local action; and, third, that the fundamental building block for doing this is the creation of diverse and dynamic epistemic (or knowledge) communities, which help to overcome political polarization and help regions address the challenges of economic restructuring and social divides.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-96004-6
    Subjects: Sociology
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  1. On the surface, the shutdown of the federal government in October 2013 was driven by a minority of members of the US House of Representatives who prioritized the defense of their ideological beliefs over the desires of a majority of legislators, a popularly elected president, and an increasingly frustrated electorate. This may be disturbing enough, but dig a little deeper into the underlying layers that enabled this remarkable political stalemate, and an even more worrisome picture emerges.

    After all, part of what allowed Tea Party Republicans to challenge the implementation of Obamacare through hardball tactics, including the threat (and reality)...

  2. One of the first concepts taught in undergraduate economics is that there is a trade-off between equity and efficiency, between fairness and economic growth. Much of that argument is rooted in the stylized experience of long-term economic development, including Kaldor’s (1977) argument that high levels of savings among the rich—in order to invest in industries with large sunk costs—was a prerequisite for rapid growth, as well as the infamous “Kuznets curve,” which suggests that inequality will rise in the early phases of economic growth (Kuznets 1955). In either case, the message is that interfering too early to promote...

  3. Case-study research often walks a fine line between the particular and the abstract. This balancing act arises precisely because the very qualifiercaseincase studysuggests that “the phenomena under investigation . . . can be found in other places. . . . The case may be unique but is not singular” (Castree 2005, 541). The iterative relationship between the concrete and the abstract, between empirical data and theoretical insights, is not only a defining feature of the approach but also the source of its analytical strength. Unlike generalization in the statistical sense, which is largely concerned with representativeness,...

  4. There is a joke sometimes told in urban planning circles, involving how many planners it takes to screw in a light bulb. The answer? None, but it takes fifteen to prepare the plan for coping in the dark. Or, sometimes: None, they are all too busy trying to plan the perfect light bulb. Strikingly, both answers are “none,” and both capture the essence of what is often the common picture of urban planners in American cities: wellmeaning professional experts with detailed knowledge and technical expertise, producing beautiful urban plans that all too often end up irrelevant, ignored, or distorted in...

  5. In May 2000, fifty business and public-sector leaders from regions around the United States gathered in Kohler, Wisconsin, to explore creating a national network that would support regional initiatives.¹ The result was the Alliance for Regional Stewardship. Recognizing limits to both federal power and local activism, and building on a growing regionalist movement across the country, the Alliance was committed to the idea that vibrant regions are built on the connections between an innovative economy, livable communities, social inclusion, and a collaborative style of governance. Since its founding, the organization has worked to develop regional leaders and support regional initiatives...

  6. Our case studies thus far have emphasized the power of collaborative processes in which knowledge is developed, shared, and used to inform regional decision-making and governance processes. In our planning-influenced cases in chapter 4, we stressed how planners could drive long-range regional visioning that helps diverse constituencies recognize a common metropolitan destiny. In our regional-stewardship cases in chapter 5, we emphasized the important role of elite-driven leadership networks even as we acknowledged the limitations of such networks in addressing equity-related challenges. In all these cases, there were conflicting values and interests—but the level of open conflict between various interest...

  7. In all of the case-study regions we’ve examined up to this point, we have stressed the role and evolution of epistemic communities, often against the backdrop of significant economic restructuring, growing demographic diversity, and a nationwide worsening of inequality. We’ve explored the differences between communities that are driven by planning, steered by elites, or wracked by conflict. We have suggested that although processes of collaboration and knowledge-sharing across diverse constituencies do not guarantee success, they may help create norms and conditions that make above-average growth and improved social equity more likely to be achieved, even in the midst of a...

  8. One of the great joys of case-study work is the potential for surprise. While we tried to rely on a rigorous combination of quantitative and qualitative reasoning to select the cases (see chapter 3), we did not really know what we would find. Among the unexpected results on our road trip were the Republican-led campaigns to increase taxes and public-sector investment in Oklahoma City; the importance of merging central-city and suburban school districts in Raleigh-Durham; support for drivers’ licenses and in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants in Utah; a paternalism gone with diminishing benefits in Charlotte and Grand Rapids; community organizing...

  9. It’s always good to find firm answers, to reinforce unshakable convictions with undisputed evidence. The clarity and confidence that can result can surely provide a road map for policy and political change. Unfortunately, it’s also the case that simply reinforcing firm prior beliefs—when, in fact, reality is a bit more complicated—can provide the combustible elements for, say, the Crusades, or more recently the Tea Party movement and its attempt to derail the workings of the federal government.

    The conclusions of this volume seem to better fit the admonition of Warren Buffet quoted above. There certainly seems to be...