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Cultural Expectations and Urban Development: The Role of “Cultural Sensitivity” and “Cultural Sincerity” in Local Growth Politics

Gordon C. C. Douglas
Sociological Perspectives
Vol. 55, No. 1 (Spring 2012), pp. 213-236
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
DOI: 10.1525/sop.2012.55.1.213
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/sop.2012.55.1.213
Page Count: 24
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Cultural Expectations and Urban Development: The Role of “Cultural Sensitivity” and “Cultural Sincerity” in Local Growth Politics
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Abstract

This article examines the role of culture in the local urban development process through a case study of recent proposals in Davis, California. The author argues that community cultural expectations—of environmental leadership and the preservation of local character—had an important impact on project proposals and the political campaigns that followed, including the ability of an unlikely corporate developer to win public approval from this town with a vocal and usually powerful anti-corporate character. While on the surface the local growth coalition came together as expected in the literature, this study demonstrates that development organizations operate within cultural contexts that are more complex than the existing discourse has accounted for. Factors that the author calls “cultural sensitivity” and “cultural sincerity” both play a role. As concerns with environmental sustainability and preservation of local character gain prominence in development politics, the insights drawn from these cases are of particular value.

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