Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Berry and Portney on Interest Groups and City Politics
Jeffrey Berry (Tufts-Political Science) and Kent Portney (Tufts-Political Science), nearly 20 years ago, published the award-winning study of grassroots citizen participation in five U.S. cities, The Rebirth of Urban Democracy. Now they have posted The Group Basis of City Politics, a paper they presented at the 2011 American Political Science Association Annual Meeting. Here's the abstract:
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.