From City Limits to City Trenches: The Local Roots of American Politics

38 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 8 Feb 2012

See all articles by Michael Javen Fortner

Michael Javen Fortner

The Murphy Institute for Worker Education & Labor Studies, CUNY School of Professional Studies; Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Rutgers University, Camden

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

Tip O’Neill, former Speaker of the House, once declared, “All politics is local.” Although a truism embraced by politicos of all stripes, political scientists have rejected this insight in both thought and deed. In fact, since Paul Peterson declared that “city politics is limited politics,” local political conflict has been relegated to the periphery of American political studies. This paper attempts to carve out a space for local political analysis within political science by situating local politics within a polity-centered approach. Employing this framework and drawing upon recent scholarship on urban and suburban history, this paper sketches a space for local analysis by demonstrating its explanatory usefulness in a major theoretical and empirical debate in American politics: the rise of conservative government. In the end, this approach provides a way for historical institutionalists to return to questions of power. It brings society back in, providing analysts a set of testable propositions about the possible relationship between state development and social inequality.

Keywords: race, inequality, urban politics, suburban politics, conservatism, Republican Party, Democratic Party

Suggested Citation

Fortner, Michael Javen, From City Limits to City Trenches: The Local Roots of American Politics (2010). APSA 2010 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1643705

Michael Javen Fortner (Contact Author)

The Murphy Institute for Worker Education & Labor Studies, CUNY School of Professional Studies ( email )

25 West 43rd Street, 19th Floor
New York, NY 10036
United States

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Rutgers University, Camden ( email )

Camden, NJ 08102
United States

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