Date of Degree
Frances Fox Piven
This study of how government intervention affects the implementation of a project of an interest group analyzes the political processes of the 45 year impasse in completing a major Holocaust memorial in New York City. Using as a case study the 1981-1991 effort to create such a project, the study develops a new concept for analyzing long-term public-private projects. This study develops and uses a so-called Mutagon to analyze the complicated and changing political coalition that has endeavored for ten years to create a Holocaust museum.
The Mutagon concept augments existing interest group theories, (e.g., iron triangle and issue network theory) which do not adequately account for: changes in political coalitions during long-term projects; the possibility of an interest group having to deal with both a governor and a mayor; the conflicts of interest when elected officials are part of the interest group.
The Mutagon concept is summarized as follows: Government policy for a long-term city-state public-private project emerges from a changing polygon consisting of the interest group, mayor, governor, and other officials. Although the Mutagon is working for closure, it may instead create an impasse because of: (1) changes within this polygon that occur over time (e.g., when a player enters or exits); (2) the top-heavy structure of a political alliance that sometimes has two heads; and (3) the complex relationship among the players.
Using the Mutagon, the study also builds on existing literature on citizen participation, agenda setting, and political symbolism, by demonstrating how changes over time in a political alliance must be taken into account. The study traces the history and pre-history of the New York City project, including failed attempts since 1946 to create a major Holocaust memorial, and the emergence of the Holocaust as a "hot" agenda item for President Jimmy Carter and then for Mayor Edward I. Koch. The study also analyzes the changing stages in the Mutagon coalition, including the sharing of power between Koch and Governor Mario Cuomo, and how these changes have affected the prospects for implementation and the projected museum's image and way of remembering.
Saidel, Rochelle G., "The Politics of Memorialization: Creating a Holocaust Memorial Museum in New York City" (1992). CUNY Academic Works.