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avant-garde ideas in the arts. It is a study in exquisite cultural, economic, and political contrast. While ew York partly reflect larger trends, it al 0 helps to generate them, thus putting its own stamp on broader developments el ewhere. If we return to the question that are currently central to theoretical debates in the social sciences, we find they can be fruitfully po ed in the New York City environment. How, for example, do rapid change in economic structure influence broad patterns of ocial and political stratification? The essay in the volume delineate the enormou ocial, political, and cultural a peets of what have variously been called the first, econd, and third indu trial revolutions or the mercantile, industrial, and po tindustrial era. In each, creation and decay simultaneou Iy created an uneven and complicated impact aero s the cia structure. How, given the e complicated effects, have group entering or being created in the rapidly changing urban etting become incorporated into the economy, polity, and culture? How can a common polity, a shared civic culture, be created from so many distinct and conflicting treams? I the proce s characterized by upward mobility, a clo ed opportunity tructure, or both? What explains the fate of various group? Is an undercla a permanent feature of rapid period of structural change? New York City ha constantly generated new inequalitie , with new groups clu tered seemingly permanently at the bottom. Yet many of the e group have improved their economic po ition over time through a complex political truggle. Inten e political truggles have also taken place between decaying economic forms, whether arti an production in 1810 or garment loft factorie in the 1980 , with such ri ing forms a the factory y tem or advanced corporate ervice. The current intere t in analyzing the evolution of state capacity and autonomy can al 0 be advanced through tudie of New York City. State intervention ha fo tered and haped the city' physical and economic growth. Thi has been mo t obviou in public capital inve tments like the Erie Canal, the ew York City subway sy tem, or the John F. Kennedy International Airport, but it has al 0 been true in more subtle ways. New York's defeat of Philadelphia' Second Bank of the United State in 1836 provide an example of how political advantage helped hape financial markets not only in New York but in the nation. Reciprocally, the concentration of wealth and poverty in New York inevitably make economic trends into political i ue. Cia difference have been enormous for a century and a half in SEPTEMBER

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New York, yet outbreaks of class violence or cia politics have been episodic at most. In each period, the political order and the civic culture have mediated economic tension . This mediation certainly took place outside the strictly political realm as well. A common culture was forged out of disparate and competing voices, in part becau e this culture expre ed ome cleavages among groups while dampening others. Some city paces were delineated as the turf of class and ethnic subcultures, while others developed a much more public, heterogeneous character. There are implicit rule governing the evolution of this spatial differentiation which relate to the political and economic dimensions of power. From the debate over creating Central Park to conflict over access to park space on the city'S rim 140 years later, New York City offer much material for reflection. A final question theoretically central to the ocial sciences concern the degree of and limit to local autonomy. Anthony Giddens has written that the city wa central to ocial theory until the advent of the nation-state, which usurped the city' rights and powers. Much neoclassical and neo-Marxi t thinking ha reinforced this po ition. Leading economists, sociologists, and political scientists have concluded that competition for inve tment prevents citie from exercising political power over economic arrangement, at lea t in terms of redistribution. Some neo-Marxists have portrayed citie as the product of the mode of production and it discontent, with local politics following the functional imperative of promoting the former and suppressing the latter. Other scholar , drawing on an older tradition in the United State, re i t writing off local autonomy. The community tudies literature took the importance of the urban realm for granted. The Chicago school of ociology aw the city a ociety writ mall. While recognizing that things change a the cale of analysis hifts from the nation to the city, Robert A. Dahl' classic tudy of New Haven,t and Browning, Marshall, and Tabb' recent prize-winning tudy of California cities,2 recognize that citie are place where larger force can be affected a well a ob erved and under tood. De pite the 10 of authority to higher juri diction and the vulnerabilit to global market and demographic trend ,thi view hold that action in urban politie can have real, I Robert A. Dahl. Who GovmlS~ ew Haven: Yale University Pre , 1961. 2 Rufu P. Browning, Dale Marshall, and David Tabb. Prott t Is Not Enough . Berkeley: Universit of alifornia Pre , 1984.


Profile for SSRC's Items & Issues

Items Vol. 42 No. 3 (1988)  

Items Vol. 42 No. 3 (1988)