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date: 06 July 2022

Abstract and Keywords

I suggest in this chapter that the uneasy fit of cities in the American political system (something that has persisted despite the fact that both cities and the American political system, and their relationships to one another, have changed dramatically over the past two centuries) might tell us something interesting about American political development. My suggestion fits into the strain of historical institutionalist research that sees institutional ‘friction’ or ‘intercurrence’ as key to explaining significant change over time. It diverges, however, from the dominant traditions within the study of American urban politics. I provide an overview of these dominant traditions, and I then suggest how viewing cities as ill-fitting elements within American political development might open up new avenues for researching the relationships between cities and American political thought, federalism, and the construction of political roles and identities.

Keywords: cities, urbanization, urban politics, pluralism, regime theory, political machines, American political thought, federalism

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