Collections > Carolina Planning Journal > Carolina Planning Vol. 9.1: North Carolina's Small Cities > Understanding the Political and Economic Context of Urban Development

During the late sixties, economists, sociologists, urban planners, and other students of urban phenomena increasingly investigated alternative theoretical perspectives from which these phenomena could be examined. This activity was motivated partly by events such as the urban rebellions that signaled that all was not well in the cities of the United States, and partly by dissatisfaction with traditional or "orthodox" approaches to urban phenomena. The dissatisfaction with traditional views stemmed from disagreement with the assumptions on which traditional approaches were based and from the inability to adequately explain the urban situation of the sixties. Many of the investigations that emerged during this period were based on Marxist analysis. Two topics receiving particular attention were the political economy of urban development and the theory of the state. The state as used here refers to the political organization constituting the basis of civil government and social life. This paper brings together the literature on the political economy of urban development and the theory of the state that emerged during and after the late sixties. This is done in an effort to determine what these theories can contribute to our understanding of the general context within which planning takes place. Putting both the analysis of urban development and the analysis of the state in the context of the larger political and economic structure of society can provide important insights into urban life by allowing various dimensions and interrelations to be examined.