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Civic Culture and Urban Change

Governing Dallas

Royce Hanson

Publication Year: 2003

Civic Culture and Urban Change analyzes the Dallas government’s adaptation to shifts in its demography and economic structure that occurred after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. The book examines civic culture as a product of a governing regime and the constraints it placed on the capacity of the city to adapt to changes in its population, economy, and the distribution of political power. Royce Hanson traces the impact of civic culture in Dallas over the past forty years upon the city’s handling of major crises in education, policing, and management of urban development and shows the reciprocal effect of those responses on the development of civic capital. Hanson relates the city’s civic culture to its economic history and political institutions by following the progression of Dallas governance from business oligarchy to regency of professional managers and federal judges. He studies the city’s responses to school desegregation, police–minority conflicts, and other issues to illuminate the role civic and organizational cultures play in shaping political tactics and policy. Hanson builds a profile of political life in Dallas that highlights the city’s low voter turnouts, sparse civic and political networks, and relative lack of multiracial institutions and mechanisms. Civic Culture and Urban Change summarizes the "solution sets" Dallas employs in dealing with major issues, and discusses the implications of those findings for the future of effective democracy in Dallas and other large cities.

Published by: Wayne State University Press

Cover, Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii-xi

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pp. xiii-xix

The issues addressed in this book began to occupy me two decades ago, when I served as study director for the National Committee on Urban Policy of the National Research Council. The committee focused attention on the transformation...

Part I: Civic Culture, Institutions, and the Dallas Political Economy

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pp. 1-77

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1. Urban Regimes and Change

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pp. 3-14

Change was universal in American cities during the last third of the twentieth century. Most experienced dramatic changes in their populations as a consequence of geographic and economic mobility, suburbanization...

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2. The City That Invented Itself

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pp. 15-30

A great city is more than stone and steel. It is also an act of civic imagination. Fact and allegory fuse in a civic myth that interprets experience, justifying the city’s history and uniqueness. The civic myth...

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3. The Transformation of the Dallas Economy

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pp. 31-45

Dallas civic culture and the persistence of its myth can be understood best in the context of the evolution of the city’s political economy. Each of three major eras in Dallas economic history has occasioned a transformation...

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4. Economic Structure, Demography, and Political Power

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pp. 46-77

The Dallas economy was transformed in the last third of the twentieth century but the city’s civic culture remained remarkably constant and its institutions of governance changed little. The civic culture...

Part II: The Limits of the Public City: Vital Services

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pp. 79-172

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5. Power Failure: Public Education in Dallas

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pp. 81-135

The Dallas civic culture’s devotion to minimal government limits the public sphere to providing only those services the market and charities cannot produce more efficiently. “Politics” is regarded as an unseemly...

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6. The Regency at Work: Redesigning Policing

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pp. 136-172

The mixture of bureaucratic and identity politics in the school system confounded the ability of either the fading oligarchy, the federal courts, or the managerial regency to adapt to the transformations...

Part III: Growing Dallas: Civic Culture and Development

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pp. 173-255

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7. Growth as a Public Good: The Dallas Growth Machine

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pp. 175-198

Land use and economic development occupy a large segment of the policy agenda of any economically active city. They engage the city’s elite economic and professional institutions— its banks, utilities, merchants...

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8. Making Development Policy the Dallas Way

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pp. 199-240

The most striking difference between the development policy arena in Dallas and those for schools or policing is the continuing deep involvement of business interests. This is to be expected because of the direct stakes business leaders...

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9. The Private Uses of Public Powers

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pp. 241-255

Development and growth have occupied a large space in the political culture of Dallas. Some of the largest and most spectacular development projects are among the icons of the city. Fair Park occupies an emblematic role...

Part IV: Civic Capital: The Political Life of Dallas

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pp. 257-319

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10. The Phantom Publics of Dallas

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pp. 259-285

Earlier chapters have described how Dallas dealt with educational and policing crises and the development of the city during its economic and demographic transformation in the last decades of the twentieth...

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11. Race, Representation, and Legitimacy

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pp. 286-319

When Council member Al Lipscomb threw his chair and stalked out of the Council chamber on May 11, 1991, it was a symbol of more than the frustration and outrage of blacks at one more delay in Dallas’s tortured...

Part V: Conclusions and Reflections

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pp. 321-388

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12. How Dallas “Solves” Problems

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pp. 323-355

People engage in collective political activity through interest groups and other intermediary institutions to resolve particular public problems. Civic capital is produced when officials and citizens receive positive feedback..

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13. Reflections

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pp. 356-388

The political economy of Dallas poses a paradox. Its private sector is charged with entrepreneurial energy. Through peaks and troughs of business and technology cycles Dallas firms have been leading innovators...


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pp. 389-424


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pp. 425-438


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pp. 439-457

E-ISBN-13: 9780814337479
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814330807

Page Count: 480
Illustrations: 10
Publication Year: 2003

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Dallas (Tex.) -- Politics and government -- 20th century.
  • Political culture -- Texas -- Dallas -- History -- 20th century.
  • City planning -- Texas -- Dallas -- History -- 20th century.
  • Urban policy -- Texas -- Dallas -- History -- 20th century.
  • Dallas (Tex.) -- Economic conditions -- 20th century.
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