Date of Degree

10-2006

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Anthropology

Advisor(s)

Neil Smith

Committee Members

Michael Blim

David Harvey

Isa Susser

Gary McDonogh (outside reader)

Subject Categories

American Studies | Geography | Social and Cultural Anthropology

Abstract

This dissertation explores the links between a development project, a particular urban ideology, and processes of class transformation in contemporary New York City. The city's postindustrial transformation, especially since the 1970s fiscal crisis, has created a newly dominant corporate elite consisting of executives and high-level professionals. This ruling class alliance has begun to supersede the city's older, real estate-centered traditional growth coalition, as emblematized by the political rise of billionaire ex-CEO Michael Bloomberg. Mayor Bloomberg, along with other ex-corporate executives in his administration, implemented a private-sector inspired corporate, technocratic, and antipolitical approach to governance in general and urban and economic development policy in particular. The Bloomberg Way, as I call this approach, entailed an embrace of competitiveness and conceptualized the city government as a corporation, businesses as clients, and the city itself as a product to be branded. The centerpiece of the development strategy inspired by the Bloomberg Way was the Hudson Yards plan, a comprehensive plan for the far west side of Manhattan originally developed as part of the city's bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics. I explore the effectiveness of the Bloomberg Way in generating political support and governmental approval for various elements of the Hudson Yards plan. While portions of the Hudson Yards plan were approved, others, most notably a far west side Olympic stadium, were not. To the degree that the plan did gain support and approval it was in spite of the antipolitical Bloomberg Way, which proved ill-suited to the contentious realities of New York City development politics; more important were pre-existing reservoirs of political support among the members of the city's traditional growth coalition and efforts at constituency-building by administration allies. I conclude that while this plan was largely a political failure, the Bloomberg administration learned important lessons from this failure, which actually allowed Mayor Bloomberg to expand his political support and consolidate his position of leadership. This dissertation has implications for broader understandings of urban neoliberalism and governance, especially in cities in which corporate elites are assuming positions of political leadership and are drawing on their corporate experience in governing.

Comments

Digital reproduction from the UMI microform.

 
 

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