New version page

Sellers Review Response FINAL

Upgrade to remove ads

This preview shows page 1-2-3 out of 8 pages.

Save
View Full Document
Premium Document
Do you want full access? Go Premium and unlock all 8 pages.
Access to all documents
Download any document
Ad free experience
Premium Document
Do you want full access? Go Premium and unlock all 8 pages.
Access to all documents
Download any document
Ad free experience
Premium Document
Do you want full access? Go Premium and unlock all 8 pages.
Access to all documents
Download any document
Ad free experience

Upgrade to remove ads
Unformatted text preview:

Sociolegal Studies and Urban Governance: Mapping an Interdisciplinary FrontierJefferey M. SellersUniversity of Southern CaliforniaOctober 2007(submitted to Canadian Journal of Law and Society)It was a pleasure to see the appreciative review of my book Governing From Below: Urban Regions and the Global Economy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002) by Randy Lippert in this journal (Lippert 2006). The project that culminatedin this book began as a dissertation addressed mainly to the audience of sociolegal scholars (Sellers 1994). The book itself remains largely focused on land use regulation and planning in eleven urban regions throughout France, Germany and the United States. In developing a framework to fit my findings, I ultimately settled on power and influence in urban governance rather than sociolegal studies as the main analytical focus. As Professor Lippert recognized, elements from the law and society tradition still played an important role in the resulting synthesis. My ultimate choice was to integrate aspects of the law and society tradition to the study of urban governance, rather than the reverse. Professor Lippert’s review is remarkably insightful and thoughtful, and shows a sophisticated understanding of this research and its findings. He also raises important and more general questions about the relation between urban governance and law and society. I agree with him that these two fields have a great deal to contribute to each other. Yet it is important to be explicit and self-conscious about their differences. Each brings distinct presuppositions, theoretical concerns and methodological presumptions to the analysis of similar subjects. I have ultimately found that analysis of urban governance offers a more compelling way to explain state-society relations at the local level than sociolegal studies by itself has so far delivered. Yet sociolegal studies offers insights into the character of legal norms and the links between governance and society that can fill crucial gaps in the study of urban governance.2Two challenging points of criticism that Professor Lippert raised in his review highlight major contrasts between the approaches of the political scientists and sociologists engaged in the study of urban governance and the presumptions of sociolegalstudies. Each of these points has larger implications for integrating these two fields. Professor Lippert’s first critique concerns where to look for the content of bottom-up governance. He suggests that the sources of effective “bottom-up” governance may lie “farther down’” than Sellers acknowledges, that it flows upward from more subtle and less obvious places, beneath the formal texts and opinions espoused by the city elites and activists that he examined in detail (p. 173).This is really two separate contentions. The first asserts that consumers and citizens have played a more important role than local elites and activists. The second presumes that my investigation stopped at formal texts or at the opinions of the elites and activists with whom I mainly spoke. Both confuse a central aspect of the research design for the book. My aim was to examine what really made an effective difference in social and economic outcomes, by mapping the entire process of state-society relations backwards from the actual social, economic and other data. My book begins with an entire chapter that compares the overall patterns of economic prosperity, environmental quality and social and spatial equity in the eleven French, German and U.S. urban regions. My examination of the causes of these outputs was based on much more than the opinions of the elites and activists I spoke to (who in fact numbered close to 300 by 3the time the research concluded), and certainly much more than any set of formal texts. In search of reliable explanations, my research triangulated the results from this data withclose examination of data on land use, housing prices, municipal budgets, local electoral statistics, census data and many other sources. But a deeper misunderstanding of the reality of urban governance is also at work in Professor Lippert’s critique. His comment reflects a pervasive tendency in sociolegal scholarship to oppose the influence of ordinary people in everyday legal situations to the influence of elite politics and legal elites. An entire tradition of work in urban politics and urban political economy shows that the relation between ordinary people and elites cannot be approached in this dichotomous fashion. As Brisbin and Hunter have suggested recently in this journal (2006), law and regulation are “layered” in ways that can only be understood by taking power, politics and decisionmaking at the local scale into account. Whatever the scale, collective action matters for the influence of ordinary people.This is by no means a conclusion that citizens and consumers are unable to influence outcomes. But when they organize or mobilize in movements, at the neighborhood, city or national level, they are more likely to have an effective voice. And when they do not, their influence is likely to be more limited. There is in short an entire body of findings that suggests that looking only at the everyday behavior of citizens and consumers provides an inadequate starting point in the search for a deeper, non-elitist theory of urban governance. Even looking to the most micro-level of neighborhoods, researchers need to understand asymmetries in power there. Skewed resources in these processes often give large property-owners, developers, real estate professionals--and in 4the U.S., land use lawyers--more influence than, say, apartment dwellers or small homeowners.In Chapter Five my book actually undertook a comparative analysis of local movements that reinforces this point (Sellers 2002, pp. 335-368). In this respect my account went beyond an earlier tradition of comparative local politics that has looked only at local elites and even governmental officials alone (e.g. Tarrow 1977). The findings about the power of neighborhood-based and social movements, however, were quite sobering. The influence they exercised in the French, German and U.S. urban regions I studied turned out to be limited and highly contingent. In the U.S. in Germany, there was evidence that small-scale local movements had exerted systematic influence in smaller suburban communities where local agendas were highly


Download Sellers Review Response FINAL
Our administrator received your request to download this document. We will send you the file to your email shortly.
Loading Unlocking...
Login

Join to view Sellers Review Response FINAL and access 3M+ class-specific study document.

or
We will never post anything without your permission.
Don't have an account?
Sign Up

Join to view Sellers Review Response FINAL 2 2 and access 3M+ class-specific study document.

or

By creating an account you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use

Already a member?