Progressive city-governing coalitions, James DeFillipis, Associate Professor in the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and Graduate Faculty of Geography at Rutgers, writes face at least two large political challenges. One is the asymmetric influence exercised by the interests most attuned to what city governments do, which might be labelled “producer interests.” These insiders hold city jobs, get city contracts, receive favorable city regulatory decisions (for example, on zoning and development), or otherwise directly benefit from government. They tend to be cohesive, well organized, highly knowledgeable about the inner workings of the public sector, and keen political participants. Consumer interests—the clients, citizens, and residents who depend on city government in various ways to provide key services and a high quality of urban life—are much more disparate, fragmented, and weakly organized. Producer interests thus often have considerably more political influence than do consumer interests in fashioning governing coalitions and shaping what they decide to do.
For a discussion of how progressive mayors in US cities link up with urban social movements to confront these challenges, read Dr. DeFillipis's recent article on metropoliques, co-authored with Rutgers alumna Akira Drake Rodriguez.