Beauty is not characteristic of the American urban scene. It is this rare quality that makes San Francisco ""everybody's...

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POWER IN THE CITY: Decision Making in San Francisco

Beauty is not characteristic of the American urban scene. It is this rare quality that makes San Francisco ""everybody's favorite city."" But, aesthetics aside, much of the city's official life is indeed typical. Despite lovely views of the Bay, despite its unique blend of hamlet and cosmopolis, there is the social and political reality that San Francisco shares with much of urban America today. To disclose this reality is to disenchant tourists' dreams and to offer instead the bare ""structures"" of social analysis. This book accomplishes that task with sound, if eclectic, method, a sense of balance, and a commendable lack of jargon. It offers us both a diachronic and a synchronic view of the city's political system. First and foremost there is the politics of profit -- the interface of private business and public governance. Less obvious and tangible, there is the politics of deference -- a struggle for status between ethnic groups that is every bit as real as the straggle for income. The bulk of the book's analysis is devoted to these two processes. The overall picture which emerges is one of a segmented decision-making system responsive to shifting groups and alliances of powerful outside forces and of diminishing local autonomy. The book gives us a lively mosaic in which settlement patterns, opportunity and financial and political reward, as well as leadership are shaped by large movements of people, commodities, and capital which originate outside the boundaries of the city itself. These forces today converge to produce a ""new"" San Francisco: a city of mass transit as well as private traffic jams, tourist facilities, and a concentrated business center. This book both fills a gap on information about San Francisco and tells us in a subtle way that the study of urban politics has come of age.

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Univ. of California Press

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1974