The Group Basis of City Politics

24 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 3 Aug 2011

See all articles by Jeffrey M. Berry

Jeffrey M. Berry

Tufts University

Kent E. Portney

Texas A&M University - George Bush School of Government and Public Service

Date Written: 2011


How do nonprofits empower themselves? In this paper we analyze nonprofit advocacy in city politics, emphasizing especially their interaction with local policymakers. First we discuss what we call the “politics of place” in cities, examining the participation of three types of citywide and neighborhood nonprofits. The second section develops two lines of inquiry and articulates a set of hypotheses that grow out of a theoretical construct relating to low barriers to entry. Next, after describing the empirical methodology, those hypotheses are tested with data derived from large scale surveys in 50 of the nation’s largest cities. The subjects of these three surveys are city councilors, agency administrators, and interest group advocates. We find that access to policymakers in city politics is relatively easy as the barriers to entry for advocates is quite low. Not surprisingly the evidence points to a privileged position for business, though neighborhood associations also stand out in terms of incorporation into the policymaking process.

Keywords: city politics, nonprofits, advocacy

Suggested Citation

Berry, Jeffrey M. and Portney, Kent E., The Group Basis of City Politics (2011). APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN:

Jeffrey M. Berry (Contact Author)

Tufts University ( email )

Medford, MA 02155
United States

Kent E. Portney

Texas A&M University - George Bush School of Government and Public Service ( email )

TAMU 4220
1004 George Bush Dr West
College Station, TX 77843
United States

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