Date of Award

8-2004

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Geography

Major Professor

Ronald Foresta

Committee Members

Charles S. Aiken, Thomas L. Bell, Asafa Julata

Abstract

In this dissertation, I explore how power and governance in Nashville is related to economic and institutional change on a national and global scale—the transition from Fordism to post-Fordism. By investigating the political and social institutions of the city, it is my objective to understand how the elites are operating to control and direct development. The study is an in-depth look at the activities of local business and how they decide to respond in a situation of change and uncertainty. Here I stress the importance of collective action among the business elite, which is equally meaningful to explore as the notion of capitalism driven by competition. The period of analysis stretches from the 1980s to the late 1990s; but the early 1990s was a particularly crucial time period in Nashville when a new local regime emerged as a catalyst for the local post-Fordist mode of regulation. New forms of governance, which reached maturation stage during the 1990s, have evolved in Nashville affecting both political and business institutions. Governance is increasingly based on power diffusion, transparency and inclusiveness in decision-making, yet dominated by business-friendly policies, which should be viewed in the context of urban competition and the need to position the city to take advantage of economic restructuring. To comprehend the interaction between local development and the national regime, I have studied three relevant policy areas that can exemplify the nature of competitive governance: image and city promotion; airport development; and emerging engagement of business interests in social policy as exemplified by education. The first two areas conform to the idea of the city driven by entrepreneurial considerations, while the latter concerns social reproduction. All cases, however, depend on the capacity of business to pursue its goals through collective action.

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