City Politics and Planning

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This volume discusses some of the factors determining the political impact of the city planner on community decision-making. Rabinovitz bases her book on case studies of planning decisions in six New Jersey communities that were chosen for reputations of both effective and ineffective planning. She also uses a reanalysis of an attitude survey of U.S. planning directors, as well as a synthesis of previous studies. The materials are presented comparatively, thus enabling the reader to identify major themes in the broad and, until now, largely uncharted area of the interrelationship of politics and planning.The author first discusses the variables that influence the effectiveness of planning. She then develops a typology of community political systems in the six cities, based on such factors as power distribution, values, style, participation, conflict and cohesion, and potential for program output. The typology of urban political systems is matched by a typology of roles for the planner; this leads to a careful examination of the usefulness of different roles in different urban political situations. Other variables on which the success of particular roles depends--such as the ability to command resources for desired actions, the norms of the planning community, and the needs of the planner--are included. Finally, the author raises three important questions central to the planner's effectiveness: Can success spoil the planner? What does the planner contribute to decision-making? To what extent does political utility determine the planner's benefits or reverses?City Politics and Planning not only explores some crucial aspects of the city power structure but also shows the importance of who governs and, in addition, assesses the impact of community values on the types of policies that the community is likely to adopt. As such, this volume is invaluable to the students of city planning, local government, political science, and urban sociology; as well as, of course, to the professional planner, the urban administrator, and everyone concerned with the problems of our cities.