The search for alternative urban development often confronts the despairing conclusion that political conditions in American cities foreclose any real possibilities of change. In this article we challenge that view. We argue that debates about alternative urban development in the U.S. overemphasize urban industrial transition as a process of rupture, whereby strong business-led political regimes displace an old economic order in favor of a new corporate-centered, FIRE-oriented, downtown development model. In contrast, we suggest many cities have experienced post-industrial neoliberalism in more muted fashion, characterized by a condition of political economic stasis, where old industries and political interests persist alongside new economic strategies and developments. A brief discussion of Akron, Ohio, Lexington, Kentucky, and Tacoma, Washington illustrates the dynamics at work in such cities. We argue that stasis and the weakness of the mainstream orthodoxy in some cities provide a context in which alternative economic development might be more viable.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/charleswilliams/7/