Neighborly Governance: Neighborhood Associations and Participative Democracy in Tucson, Arizona
AdvisorPark, Thomas K
Committee ChairPark, Thomas K
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation examines contemporary changes in relations and forms of urban governance by focusing on neighborhood associations in Tucson and analyzing their practices and experiences in the midst of an emerging trend that values collective action and direct democracy. This urban ethnography focuses on practices, strategies, and ideologies of neighborhood associations to discuss issues of representation, participation, and social integration. This dissertation is based on fieldwork conducted for a total of 24 months between 2005 and 2007. It combines participant observation and in-depth interviews with Tucson residents, members of neighborhood associations, and City and non-governmental organizations' officials.This work is presented in three main parts divided into several chapters. In the first part, I provide a general review of the development of concepts of governance and representative democracy in contemporary as well as earlier times. I aim to contextualize the work of neighborhood associations within a general movement towards more direct participatory democracy and argue that a new understanding of the transformations impacting the functioning of representative democracy is crucial to its preservation as a central institution of social integration.The second part of this dissertation presents an analysis of fieldwork data and argues that neighborhood associations are positioning themselves, at the local and global levels, as an important part of the emerging discourses and practices of civil society. Within this broad context, neighborhood associations engage in a variety of activities, pursue multiple strategies, and adopt very different ideologies. A central idea that results from this analysis is that neighborhood associations greatly value practices of direct democracy and strive to exercise greater control over processes of representative democracy in order to prevent its perceived deficiencies from thwarting their projects and corrupting their ideals.The third part extends the data analysis and provides a political and historical reconstruction of neighborhood associations and their cultural evolution as a continuation of the counterculture movement of the 1960s. I also argue that there is a powerful drive towards the global implementation and exercise of direct democratic processes. I draw on the example of Morocco's urban governance reforms and discuss its growing neighborhood associations to show the delicate and conflicted paths they tread between their engagement with the existing system of representative democracy and their attempts to step beyond the limitations of that system to carry out some of the ideals of building a direct and participatory urban democracy.