Introduction to Urban Politics (POLS 210)
Instructor Ruhil Office 1147 BSB
Phone (312) 413-7274 Office Hours By Appointment
Class Meets Mon/Wed: 11:00-12:15 Location 1171 BSB  &  4133 BSB
Course Overview
In this course our primary focus will be on the politics of cities and suburbs in the United States. While scholars approach the study of urban politics in diverse ways, I find the causes and consequences of governmental reform to be an excellent trap for virtually all the “action” in urban America. Indeed, national developments, intergovernmental politics, the politics of ideas, culture wars, municipal finance, minority politics, policy design and change, service delivery, and electoral politics are either born of or then the cause for some perturbation in our cities and suburbs. History cannot be divorced from urban politics and thus in this course we will, insofar as possible, approach each question from a historical perspective.

If you have any conditions or challenges that may make it difficult for you to meet the requirements of this course or that may lead you to require extra time on assignments, let me know so that we can make the necessary arrangements.

Texts and Other Requirements
  Required Texts & Related Materials

The following texts are on order at the UIC Bookstore and may also be available online (for e.g., Amazon.Com)

Judd, Dennis R. and Todd Swanstrom. City Politics: Private Power and Public Policy. 4th Edition. New York: Longman.

Garreau, Joel.
Edge City: Life on the New Frontier. New York: Anchor.

While the Judd and Swanstrom text will establish a base for most of the questions we pursue this semester, Garreau’s work is a fascinating take on the most recent paradigm of urbanization in America. Additional readings – available either online, on Reserve at the Daley Library, or then posted on my office door -- will supplement Judd and Swanstrom. You are, of course, expected to have read all relevant material in preparation for our class discussions. Some of the material employs statistical analyses and/or economic theory to knit the argument. Because these subjects are not prerequisites for this course, when you encounter technically challenging material, you are encouraged to skirt technical details and focus instead on the key substantive arguments therein.
Grade Requirements

 Grade Composition

The following elements combine to yield your course grade:
Class Participation                      20%
Research Project                         50%
Project-related Assignments    30%

If you wish to do well in this course you will have to engage in active learning; class participation is a must! In my eyes, class participation implies something very specific: you come to class having read the material assigned for that particular class meeting armed with relevant questions and comments, and; you respond (constructively, I might add), to questions I or your peers raise. Be warned; I will shutdown any conversations that are irrelevant to the subject under discussion.

The Research Project will be a structured, journalistic venture of sorts about a city, town, village, or other form of municipal organization; special districts (fire, school, etc.) do not qualify. The basic premise is simple: pick a municipality and document its political history. This historical documentation will be dynamic. That is, while your project will start with an overview of the early history of the municipality, (i.e., for example, who settled it, incorporation and governing body details, and so forth), you will update this history along the lines of, and in step with, the subjects we cover in this course. Thus, for example, how the city responded to reformism pressures, the changing economic climate in the nation over the past 100 years, immigration, civil rights, and a host of issues related to public services (financing, contracting out, and the like) and policies (education, health, public housing, growth versus anti-growth, and so forth). The final product, due at 11:59PM on May 5, 2005 will be structured as follows:

  1. The text will be at most 25 pages in length, font-size 12, double-spaced with one-inch margins top, right, bottom and left.

  2. A separate title page

  3. 2-3 pages for references

Click here for Final Paper Guidelines

I encourage you to use graphical tools (tables, charts, etc.) to illustrate some particularly important and interesting aspect of your project, but it will not count against your grade if you choose not to do so.

At key intervals during our progress through the material to be covered this semester I will ask you to submit brief (1 - 2 page) Project-related Assignments that will map particular themes to your chosen municipality’s experiences. This will serve two purposes: (1) force you to keep plodding along on your project, and (2) demonstrate your ability to apply seemingly abstract or far removed concepts encountered in the literature to your own city’s experience. Due dates and times for these assignments will be announced when I schedule these assignments.

 Spelling errors and especially egregious grammatical errors in your written submissions will cost you. Word processing software currently in vogue has spelling and grammar utilities; use them. Do not plagiarize; it is painfully easy to detect and earns a failing grade, perhaps even a summary appearance before the student conduct board.

 Note: I assume you will not miss class without giving me prior notice (in person, via email, or by phone) of both the cause and date(s) of your absence(s). Save for excused absences, there are no make-up assignments. Late submissions earn no points.  

Assignment #1 Assignment #2 Assignment #3
Assignment #4 Assignment #5 Assignment #6


Useful Links for the Research Project 

U.S. Census Bureau     FOG Surveys
National Center for Education Statistics     1981 | 1986 | 1991 | 1996 | 2001
County and City Data Books      
Municipal Codes Online      
State and Local Government on the Net      
Immigration Statistics      
FairVote - The Center for Voting & Democracy      
Glaeser et al. Segregation (1890-2000)      
The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance      
Course Calendar
Since the emphasis in this course is on giving you a thorough understanding of rudimentary statistical theory, we shall set our own pace. Hence in the calendar below I do not demarcate specific dates for each module. Hyperlinked readings are available online. Readings marked ® will be placed on "Reserve" outside my office door.

Introduction to POLS 210 - Urban Politics

Gallagher, John. 1999. “Government Choices sped Detroit’s Blight.” Detroit Free Press, April 10.
Monti, Daniel J. 2000. “Why Cities Still Matter.” Society 38(1):19-27.
Katz, Bruce. 2000. “Enough of the Small Stuff! ” Brookings Review 18(3):4-9.
Florida, Richard. 2002. “The Rise of the Creative Class.” Washington Monthly May.

Research Gateway – BSB 4133 (Computer Lab)

The Evolution of Cities and Suburbs in America
Judd and Swanstrom – Chapter 2
Garreau -
Warner, Sam Bass. 1968. “The Environment of Private Opportunity.” ®
Wade, Richard C. 1959. “The Urban Frontier.” ®
The Evolution of Cities and Suburbs
Immigration Data
Dartmouth College v. Woodward
Baker v. Carr & Reynolds v. Sims 

Machine Politics

The Rise and Demise of Machine Politics 
Urban-Rural Population Distribution, 1790-2000 (Graph)
Urban-Rural Population Distribution (by City Size), 1790-1990 (Table)
Chicago (IL) Ward Map, 1870
Chicago (IL) Ward Map, 2003

The Reform Crusades
Reformism through the Century

City Hall - Composition and Concerns

City Politicians in the Age of the Common Man
The Faces of America's City Councils - Part I - Part II
America's Cities - An Opinion Survey (2004)
The Graying of City Councils
City Councils - A Profile 

Power Politics
Campaign Contributions - Atlanta & St. Louis - Chicago I & II
Money, Turnout, and Ballot Measures in California
The Heavenly Chorus
Helping Citizens Help Themselves
Sprawl, Politics and Participation
Exit, Voice and Loyalty 
Local Influence on Capitol Hill - Part I & Part II
Who Governs?

Minorities in Urban Politics

Cities and Urban Renewal
Washington DC, States and Cities
America's Experiments with Public Housing  
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance   CFFR Data (*.xls)   CFFR Program List (*.xls)
List of Census 2000 Variables for Assignment #3 (*.xls)

Financing Urban America
The Fiscal Game
Individual Government Unit Finance Data (*.xls)  Master Data (STATA)
Documentation for Individual Government Unit Finance Data
U.S. Bureau of the Census User Guide for Historical Finance Series (*.xls)

Metropolitan Government