City Politics and Planning
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.
“As our urban population mushrooms and as the problems of pollution, juvenile delinquency, urban density, and traffic congestion cry out for creative solutions, the role of the city planner will become increasingly larger within the urban environment. Rabinovitz’s well-documented study illuminates with clarity and understanding the complex relationships between city politics and planning in six New Jersey communities… It is hoped that this study will pave the way for others concerned with probing the effectiveness of political skills and the degree of participation by the experts in the decision-making process in our communities.”
—J. David Palmer, The Western Political Quarterly
“In this age of superfluous publication when miniscule matters are inflated into worthless books, it is a pleasure to report on a work that is modest in scope, competently done, and importantly, one that proceeds from previous literature rather than striking out on still another side path… [It] provide[s] a realistic analysis, and it is short on jargon, modest in conception, careful in execution.”
—Duane Lockard, The Journal of Politics
“The author has made a definite contribution to the science of planning. Her analysis of cases and personalities is conscientious, and her reflections on, and efforts toward, a theory of planning as a very special and demanding profession are most worthwhile.”
—Pedro F. Hernandez, American Sociological Review