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Partisans and PartnersThe Politics of the Post-Keynesian Society$
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Josh Pacewicz

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226402550

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226402727.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 24 September 2021

Partisans and Partners

Partisans and Partners

(p.1) Introduction Partisans and Partners
Partisans and Partners

Josh Pacewicz

University of Chicago Press

This chapter introduces “River City” and “Prairieville,” cities which illustrate the book’s arguments. Using ethnographic observations, the chapter shows that union leaders and business owners—who were once central in community governance—traditionally took leading roles in the local Democratic and Republic party. After the 1980s, these traditional leaders disappeared or shifted focus to economic development and withdrew from parties, thus allowing ideological activists to take over. The chapter then introduces the book’s central arguments. First, community leaders’ status competition, or game, is structured by federal policies, which changed in the 1980s as reforms in bureaucracies regulating finance, social service provision, and urban development created opportunities for community leaders who identify as partners to rise in public prominence. Second, the chapter argues that people use local public life as a heuristic for making sense of politics. Whereas older residents saw politics through the framework of a labor-business struggle, younger informants identified as apolitical partners or hyper-partisan partisans, identities that failed to provide a reliable political guide. The chapter also introduces the book’s analytical approach, which triangulates ethnography and archival sources in two cities with scholarship on American federalism, political parties, civil society, urban governance, and voting behavior.

Keywords:   community study, ethnography, urban governance, voting behavior, political heuristics, public sphere, civil society, Iowa

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