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growth coalitions

  Simply put, these are groups of individuals and/or organizations that encourage, enable, or maintain local economic development. Growth coalitions are frequently called regimes, which more generally refers to public-private partnerships between state and market sectors. Given this rather open definition, the nature of economic development (and thus the issues it invokes) can be highly variable from place to place, or over time within a place. Membership in a coalition can also vary by degree, but will likely include: politicians, state bureaucrats, local media, utilities, universities, the arts, professional sports, organized labour, small retailers, and local capitalists (Logan and Molotch, 1987). Consequently, the consensus within, and stability of any growth coalition is also an open question. Bargaining, negotiation, brokerage, and compromise therefore are stressed in the literature. Likewise, the success of growth coalitions or the projects they support are by no means given, thus an ongoing, multifaceted interrogation of who wins and who loses is always necessary.

Interest in growth coalitions grew through the 1980s and continues presently, having both empirical and theoretical motivations. Empirically, the retrenchment of the welfare state and the heightened globalization of capital mobility has meant that the relative weight of collective consumption issues in city politics has declined relative to a more entrepreneurial, development-oriented agenda. Indeed, Cox (1993) has termed development issues as \'the new urban politics\'.

Theoretically, regime theory has arguably provided more sophisticated understandings of local power than previous theories obtained, and enables exploration of not only political actors, but also broader structural issues when explaining local growth politics. Questions about the relative mobility and fixity of capital in locales have been raised, for example. Likewise more sophisticated understandings of spatial scale have been suggested by Jonas (1994). Towards these aims Lauria\'s (1997) collection situates regime studies in a Regulation school. A rather different take has come from feminist geography, which has taken this literature to task for reduction-ist conceptualizations of public and private spheres in local politics (Staeheli and Clarke, 1995). (See also regional alliance.) (MPB)

References Cox, K.R. 1993: The local and the global in the new urban politics. Environmental and Planning D: Society and Space 11: 433-48. Jonas, A. 1994: The scale politics of spatiality. Environmental and Planning D: Society and Space 12: 257-64. Lauria, M., ed., 1997: Reconstruction urban regime theory. Beverly Hills: Sage. Logan, J. and Molotch, H. 1987: Urban fortunes. Berkeley: University of California Press. Staeheli, L. and Clarke, S. 1995: Gender, place, and citizenship. In J. Garber and R. Turner, eds, Gender in urban research. Beverly Hills: Sage, 3-23.



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