Title: City councils and public policy
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00098286/00001
 Material Information
Title: City councils and public policy
Physical Description: xvii, 553 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Bradley, Robert Bernard, 1946-
Copyright Date: 1977
Subject: Municipal government -- Case studies   ( lcsh )
Community power -- Case studies   ( lcsh )
Decision making -- Case studies   ( lcsh )
Political Science thesis Ph. D   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Political Science -- UF   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Case studies   ( lcsh )
Statement of Responsibility: by Robert Bernard Bradley.
Thesis: Thesis--University of Florida.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 539-552.
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: Vita.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00098286
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000206798
oclc - 04043728
notis - AAX3592


This item has the following downloads:

citycouncilspubl00bradrich ( PDF )

Full Text


Robert Bernard Bradley

A Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council of
The University of Florida
in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the
Degree of Doctor of Philosophy






To the Memory of
My Parents





I began this project almost four years ago. During that time I have

benefited immensely from the insight and counsel of Dr. Alfred B. Clubok.

He is an extraordinary teacher and a valuable friend. He has been patient

and sensitive, critical and constructive. And in my association with him

I have learned more than I might easily say. For what he has given, for

what he is, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation.

I would also like to express my appreciation to Dr. Bert E. Swanson

who has patiently read through several versions of this dissertation and

whose comments improved the entire effort markedly. This dissertation also

benefited from the advice and commentary of Dr. Keith Legg, Dr. Eugene Witt-

kopf and Dr. Robert Ziller. Dr Legg, in particular, contributed more than

he might know since it was he along with Dr. James F. Morrison who first

convinced me that political science rather than physics might provide fas-

cinating avenues of intellectual development.

In a work such as this numerous other individuals provided comfort and

assistance along the way. In particular I would like to thank my good

friends Dr. Clem Bezold and Dr. Paul Peretz with whom I discussed aspects

of my argument and without whose counsel this work would be much the worse.

Throughout the entire time I was preoccupied with this exercise, I have

had the recourse to the advice of Dr. Carolyn Herrington. She has consis-

tently urged me to clarity though I be muddled, pushed me to precision when

I was vague, and counseled me to simplicity when I was roundabout. That I

have often failed to this good counsel is a blame I regretfully accept.








The Problem and Its Importance . . . .
The Scope and Limits of the Research . . .
The Argument of the Dissertation . . .
Notes .


Policy Models and the Policy Outcomes . .
Approaches to the Study of City Councils
An Exchange Perspective on Policy Making in City
Councils .
Summary .
Notes .




The Units of Analysis . .
The Dependent Variable
The Independent Variables
The Intervening Variables
Specifying the Linkages
Methods and Analysis . .
A Commentary on the Findings
Notes .


Considering the Operational Environment .
The Establishment of Environment
The Reliability of the Factor Solution .
City Classification: Socioeconomic Environment
City Classification: Expenditure Types .
Summary . .
Notes .


S 1ii

S vii






S . 80
. 83
. . 87
S . 90
S . 93
S . 97
. . 103

. . 112


The Typical Florida Council Member . . . 162
Florida Council Members: Characteristics and Percep-
tions 167
The Characteristics of Florida City Councils .179
The City Councils of SES Group F . . . 195
Summary 206
Notes 209


Members and the Form of Their Cognitive Structures .212
Filling in the Members' Cognitive Structure 223
Cognitive Structures and Council Relations . . 231
The Council Context 240
Council Relations in SES Group F . . . 249
Summary 261
Notes 264


Council Membership and the Prospect of Conflict 267
Exchange Theory and Council Conflict . . . 275
Council Conflicts 279
Decision-Making Modes . . . . . 288
The Correlates of Decision-Making Modes . . 296
Decision-Making Modes in Group F . . . 301
Decision-Making Modes and Conflict . . . 309
Summary 319
Notes 320

The Importance of Issues 325
Conflict, Issues, and Decision Modes . . . 335
Issue Conflict Clusters and Decision-Making Modes .347
Summary 362
Notes 364

Conflict Over Issues 366
Revealed Interest Versus Posited Interests . .378
An Examination of Council Policy . . . 390
An Examination of Policy Types . . . . 405
Summary 415
Notes 419







Representativeness of the Sample . .
The Scale Variables . . . .
The Conservatism-Liberalism Scales
Group Influence Scales . . .
Policy Disagreement Scales . . .
Policy Agreement Scales . .....
Scales of Various Council Activities

Scales of Council Evaluation of Counc
Information Cue Scales . . .
Council Relations Scales
Scales of Problem Perceptions .
Notes .


Notes .



Policy Types and Expenditure Groups in the High SES
Cities .
Political Features of the High SES Cities and Their
Policies .
Summary .
Notes .


The City Council in Policy Making . . .
The Implications for Policy Explanation
Policy Research and the Policy Problem.....
Notes . .


. . 476
. . 480
. . 484

il Performance




. . 508

. 509

No tLes . . .


Notes . . .


Notes .


Box's M .
Wilks Lambda .
Notes .



















M / *- -


Table Page

3-1 Alphabetical List of Cities in Study . . . 84

3-2 Variables Contained in the Fiscal Reporting and Uni-
form Accounting and Budgeting System for the State of
Florida 86

3-3 Classification of Variables Employed in Factorial
Ecology 89

3-4 Variables Relating to City Political Structure . 92

4-1 Factor Analysis of Expenditure Variables: Varimax
Rotated Factor Matrix 121

4-2 Factor Analysis of Percent of Total Expenditures by
Functional Area Variables: Varimax Rotated Factor
Matrix .. 123

4-3 Beta Weights of Regression of SES (Factor Scores) on
Expenditures and Percentage of Expenditures by Func-
tional Area (Factor Scores) with All SES Variables
Forced into the Equation . . . . . 129

4-4 Relative Depression of Multiple Correlation Coeffi-
cients 132

4-5 Socioeconomic Groupings Used Throughout Study: Group-
ings of Florida Cities Over 10,000 Population Based on
Discriminant Analysis of 73 SES Variables Reduced by
Varimax Factor Rotation into 12 Scores Per City (Pri-
marily 1970 Data) 135

4-6 Contiguity Analysis of Cities in the Socioeconomic
Groups 137

4-7 Summary Listing of Final Assignments by Discriminant
Analyses of Cities on Total and Relative Proportions
of Expenditures in Each Functional Category . 144

4-8 Grouping of Florida Cities Based on Discriminant
Analysis of Expenditure Variables . . . 147

4-9 Grouping of Florida Cities Based on Discriminant
Analysis of Percent of Total Expenditure Variables
by Functional Area 149

4-10 Discriminant Analysis of Percentage of Total Ex-
penditures by Functional Category Within Selected
SES Groups 152

5-1 Frequency Distributions of Member Response on
Scale Variables 169

5-2 Analysis of Variance On Scale Variables For Coun-
cil Means of SES Groups . . . . 182

5-3 Group Council on Council Relations Scales for
SES Groups: Normalized to Range 1-10 . . 194

6-1 Kendall's Tau-c Between Conservatism Scales and
Member Life Experiences . . . . 216

6-2 The Relationship Between Measures of Conserva-
tism and Occupation . . . . . 218

6-3 Kendall's Tau-c Between Measures of Personal
Goals and Life Experiences . . . 220

6-4 Kendall's Tau-c Between Measures of Conservatism
and Members' Goals 223

6-5 Council Relations Scales Used to Tap Each Element of
Eulau and Prewitt's Concept of "Triple Bonding" 232

6-6 Kendall's Tau-c Between Selected Measures and Coun-
cil Characteristics for All Individual Council
Members . . 233

6-7 Spearman's Rho Between Measures of Council Charac-
teristics 236

6-8 Kendall's Tau-c Between Selected Measures and Council
Characteristics for All Councils . . . 243

6-9 Kendall's Tau-c Between Selected Measures and Council
Characteristics For Councils of Group F . . 253

6-10 Kendall's Tau-c Between Measures of Council Character-
istics for High SES Cities of Group F . . 260

6-11 Kendall's Tau-c Between Measures of Predispositions and
Differences in Predispositions for Councils of High SES
Cities in Group F 260




Table Page

7-1 Typology of Legislative Forms . . . . 270

7-2 Kendall's Tau-c Between Measure of Council Performance
and Council Characteristics (Relations) . . 278

7-3 Kendall's Tau-c Between Selected Measures of Council
Life and Total Council Conflict for All Councils . 282

7-4 Number of Councils Above and Below the Sample Mean on
Policy Disagreement (MODES) Scales . . . 291

7-5 Number of Councils Above Group F Mean on Only One of
the Policy Disagreement (MODES) Scales . . 291

7-6 Council Means on Decision-Making Mode Scales for SES
Groups: Normalized in Range from 1 to 10 . . 297

7-7 Kendall's Tau-c Between Selected Measures of Council
Life and Decision-Making Modes for All Councils . 299

7-8 Z-Scores of Council Means on Decision-Making Modes for
SES Group F Cities 303

7-9 Kendall's Tau-c Between Measures of Decision-Making
Modes and Conflict 310

7-10 Generalized Disagreement and Bargaining in SES Group F 312

7-11 Amicable Agreement and Generalized Disagreement in SES
Group F 313

7-12 Number of Decision-Making Modes Referenced Highly by
Each City Council in SES Group F . . . 314

8-1 Number of Council Members and Councils Citing Policy
Issues as Important. . 329

8-2 Policy or Funding Area Ranked by Proportion of Members
Indicating Council Disagreement . . . 339

8-3 A Comparison of Policy Issues According to Their Number
of Mentions and Their Propensity to Generate Council
Disagreement 341

8-4 Average Number of Issue Disagreements Per Member for
Each Council in SES Groups . . . . 344

8-5 Clusters of Council Issue Disagreements . . 348

8-6 Average Disagreement in Each Cluster Per Member
Per Issue for All Members of SES Group F .. 351

8-7 Average Proportion of Disagreement Per Issue Cluster
Per Member Per Issue for Group F Councils . . 352

8-8 Kendall's Tau-c Between Decision-Making Modes and Coun-
cil Divisions on Clusters for Group F Cities . . 354

8-9 Kendall's Tau-c Between Council Division Clusters and
Total Amount of Council Conflict on Issues for Coun-
cils of SES Group F 359

8-10 Kendall's Tau-c Between Member Problem Perception and
Council Division Clusters for Councils of SES Group F 361

9-1 Proportion of Council Members Indicating Disagreement,
Citizen Contacts and Group Actions by General Policy
Area . .. 371

9-2 Phi Associations Between Council Disagreement and
Types of Contacting by General Policy Area . . 375

9-3 Classification of Policy Issues into Four Types . 389

9-4 Z-Scores of Proportion of Council Members Indicating
Disagreement, Citizen Contacts and Group Actions by
General Policy Area . . . . . . 392

9-5 Difference Between Z-Scores for Proportions of Members
Indicating General Policy Area and Council Divided,
or Attracted Group and Citizen Activity . . 394

9-6 Z-Scores of Proportion of Council Members Indicating
Disagreement, Citizen Contact, and Group Action by
General Policy Area and Classified Policy Types 402

9-7 Proportion of Council Members Indicating Agreement With
Intent of Statement About Policies of Importance . 407

10-1 Average Proportion of Members Reporting Council Disagree-
ment, Citizen Contacts, and Group Actions by Policy Type
in Each Expenditure Group of High SES Cities (Group F) 426

10-2 SES Group F Council Members' Characterization of the
Political Aspects of Traditional Issues . . 430

10-3 Vector Analysis of Cross-Tabulation of Important Issues
Involving Council Disagreement and Group Conflict in
Cities of Group F 432

- ii LII



10-4 Average Proportion of Members Reporting Council
Disagreement, Citizen Contacts, and Group Actions
by Policy Type for All Council Members and Those in
SES Group F 437

10-5 Average Scores of Selected Indices in Each Expenditure
Group of High SES Cities (Group F) . . . 438

A-1 Interview Schedule 468

A-2 Response Rate by SES Group . . . . 475

A-3 Councils Represented in Each SES Group by Number of
Council Members Responding . . . . 476

A-4 Breakdown of All Members' Responses to Question:
What was your impression of this questionnaire? . 476

A-5 A Comparison of Sample and Population Characteristics
by Sex 477

A-6 Scales and Their Mnemonics . . . . 481

A-7 Reliability Coefficients for Scale Variables . 485

B-l General Information on Cities by Population Class:
1972 503

D-l Varimax Rotated Factor Matrix of Demographic
Variables 515

E-l Varimax Rotation of Issue Disagreement Areas Evaluated
by Members 534






8-6 Average Disagreement in Each Cluster Per Member
Per Issue for All Members of SES Group F 351

8-7 Average Proportion of Disagreement Per Issue Cluster
Per Member Per Issue for Group F Councils . . 352

8-8 Kendall's Tau-c Between Decision-Making Modes and Coun-
cil Divisions on Clusters for Group F Cities . . 354

8-9 Kendall's Tau-c Between Council Division Clusters and
Total Amount of Council Conflict on Issues for Coun-
cils of SES Group F 359

8-10 Kendall's Tau-c Between Member Problem Perception and
Council Division Clusters for Councils of SES Group F 361

9-1 Proportion of Council Members Indicating Disagreement,
Citizen Contacts and Group Actions by General Policy
Area . .. . . 371

9-2 Phi Associations Between Council Disagreement and
Types of Contacting by General Policy Area . . 375

9-3 Classification of Policy Issues into Four Types . 389

9-4 Z-Scores of Proportion of Council Members Indicating
Disagreement, Citizen Contacts and Group Actions by
General Policy Area . . . . . . 392

9-5 Difference Between Z-Scores for Proportions of Members
Indicating General Policy Area and Council Divided,
or Attracted Group and Citizen Activity . . 394

9-6 Z-Scores of Proportion of Council Members Indicating
Disagreement, Citizen Contact, and Group Action by
General Policy Area and Classified Policy Types 402

9-7 Proportion of Council Members Indicating Agreement With
Intent of Statement About Policies of Importance . 407

10-1 Average Proportion of Members Reporting Council Disagree-
ment, Citizen Contacts, and Group Actions by Policy Type
in Each Expenditure Group of High SES Cities (Group F) 426

10-2 SES Group F Council Members' Characterization of the
Political Aspects of Traditional Issues . . 430

10-3 Vector Analysis of Cross-Tabulation of Important Issues
Involving Council Disagreement and Group Conflict in
Cities of Group F 432

- I r~,



10-4 Average Proportion of Members Reporting Council
Disagreement, Citizen Contacts, and Group Actions
by Policy Type for All Council Members and Those in
SES Group F 437

10-5 Average Scores of Selected Indices in Each Expenditure
Group of High SES Cities (Group F) . . . 438

A-1 Interview Schedule 468

A-2 Response Rate by SES Group . . . . 475

A-3 Councils Represented in Each SES Group by Number of
Council Members Responding . . . . 476

A-4 Breakdown of All Members' Responses to Question:
What was your impression of this questionnaire? . 476

A-5 A Comparison of Sample and Population Characteristics
by Sex 477

A-6 Scales and Their Mnemonics . . . . 481

A-7 Reliability Coefficients for Scale Variables . 485

B-1 General Information on Cities by Population Class:
1972 503

D-l Varimax Rotated Factor Matrix of Demographic
Variables 515

E-l Varimax Rotation of Issue Disagreement Areas Evaluated
by Members 534




Figure Page

1-1 The Systems Approach to Policy Outcomes . . 14

1-2 Overview of the Major Conceptual Categories and Relation-
ships Investigated in the Micro-phase . . . 16

1-3 Overview of the Major Conceptual Categories, Analytical
Variables, and Relationships Investigated in the Micro-
phase of the Study 17

2-1 A Typology of Decision Organization . . . . 55

2-2 Decision Organization and Preference Articulation . 57

2-3 The Conditions Under Which Different Policy Types Can Be
Expected To Emerge From City Councils . . . 61

2-4 Modified Version of Salisbury and Heinz Typology . 65

3-1 The Demographic Perspective: Macro-phase Indicators . 80

4-1 Plot of First and Second Canonical Variables For Each I
City in Group: Based Upon Discriminant Function of SES
Variables 139

5-1 Mean Scores For All Council Members on Evaluation of Com-
munity Influence of Groups and Organizations . . 165

5-2 Mean Scores For All Council Members on Evaluation of the
Seriousness of Community Problems . . . . 166

5-3 Normalized Means on Conservation Scales For Councils of
SES Groups 186

5-4 Normalized Means on Group Influence Scales for Councils
of SES Groups . . 188

5-5 Normalized Means on Problem Perception Scales for Coun-
cils of SES Groups 191

5-6 Normalized Council Means on Conservatism Scales for .
Councils of SES Group F . . . . 197 ;

5-7 Normalized Council Means on Group Influence Scales for
SES Group F . . . 199

xii ':

Figure Page

5-8 Normalized Council Means on Problem Perception Scales
for SES Group F 202

5-9 Normalized Council Means on Council RElations Scales
for Councils of SES Group F . . . . . 204

6-1 Major Categories and Variables Treated in Chapter Six 213

6-2 Closed Networks of Bivariate Relationships Centering on
Measures of Problem Perceptions and Political Predispo-
sitions for All Members . . . . . 225

6-3 Closed Networks of Bivariate Relstionships Centering on
Measures of Council Relations for All Members . . 238

6-4 Closed Networks of Bivariate Relationships Centering on
Measures of Council Relations for All Councils (N = 61) 246

6-5 Closed Networks of Bivariate Relationships Centering on
Measures of Council Relations for the Councils of High
SES Cities (N = 12) 257

7-1 Major Categories and Variables Treated in Chapter Seven 268

7-2 Conflict in the SES Groups . . . . . 280

7-3 Closed Network of Bivariate Relationships Centering on
Measures of Council Relations and Total Council Conflict. 284

7-4 z-Scores of Council Means in SES Group F on CONFLICT . 287

7-5 Closed Networks of Bivariate Relationships Centering on
Decision-Making Modes for Councils of the High SES Cities
in Group F 305

7-6 Correlations of Decision-Making Modes and Conflict . 318

8-1 Major Categories and Variables Treated in Chapter Eight 324

8-2 Correlation of Decision-Making Modes With Average Disagree-
ment Over Issues in Group F (Kendall's Tau-C) .. . 346

9-1 Major Categories and Variables Treated in Chapter Nine 367

10-1 Systems Model of Policy Process: Micro-Phase Indicators. 423

E-l Plot of Stress Against Dimensionality in Multidimensional
Scaling Analysis of Issue Conflicts (MDSCAL Program) . 531

E-2 Plot of the Minimum Average Correlation Necessary for In-
clusion in Cluster Against the Number of Clusters Produced
at That Level of Correlation (CLUSTER Program) . . 531


Figure Page

E-3 Two-Dimensional Solution Scaling Issue Disagreements
(Stress = .270) .532


1~Ppr IE~P~ I~ IC- 1~- I' I q ~-~---~

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
at the University of Florida


Robert Bernard Bradley

December 1977

Chairmen: Alfred B. Clubok
Major Department: Political Science

City councils are breakwaters for public policy. There is a strong

link between the political features of councils and their communities

and the types of policies which they pursue. So argues this disserta-

tion as it examines city councils and their handling of public policy

in cities throughout Florida.

In the last decade, research undertaken within the premises of the

demographic model of public policy has shown socioeconomic factors to

systematically account for municipal expenditures better than the struc-

tural features of municipal government. However, when 78 Florida cities

with population greater than 10,000 were grouped into six clusters, each

sharing relatively similar socioeconomic conditions, expenditure patterns

within several clusters were found to be different. Cities displayed

different expenditure profiles despite the similarity of their environ-

ments. This suggested the possibility that political forces might act

in a crucial way to determine public policy. City councils, it was

thought, might be crucibles where these political forces are given play.

To gauge the differences in the political situation of the many

councils throughout Florida, this study relied on responses of council


members in 61 cities to a mail questionnaire and personal interviews.

These responses were investigated for the manner in which the personal

attributes of the members, their perceptions of significant contextual

factors and the characteristics of the councils to which they belong act

to alter each council's decision organization. City councils, it was

found, develop a repertoire of decision-making modes by which they handle

different policy choice situations. Seven different modes, falling into

two broad types, were investigated: 1) disagreement modes which include

generalized, particularized and idiosyncratic splits, and 2) agreement

modes which include bargaining, amicable agreement, consensual and infor-

mal agreement. Typically, the personal attributes of the members and es-

pecially their political and religious predispositions along with council

relations will help shape the mix of modes a council adopts. But the

specific modes a council adopts will evolve out of the kinds of issues

considered and the historical circumstance of the council.

Decision-making modes capture conceptually the orientation members

evidence toward matters which come before the council. The contextual

component of such orientations is great. Not every matter in a general

policy area will be resolved with the same decision mode. Nor are parti-

cular modes likely to be used for any given issue across a range of coun-

cils. Nonetheless, some decision modes are more permeable to certain is-

sues than others. And in any event, the referencing of modes appears to

be a highly complex and discriminating process.

In part, this complexity results from the impact of issues on each

council and their meaning within that council. A simple classification

scheme, such as that suggested by Lowi, appears inadequate to capture the

manner in which politics and policy relate across the range of issues


-- -^--- -- ---.-~- I -4LC- 1~----

which councils consider. But as the salience of the policies increases,

as they become more important in the perceptions of the council members,

policies can be expected to result in a predictable fashion from the pat-

tern of council decision making and demands placed on the council by the

community. In fact, the systematic policy differences that are observed

between cities appear related to systematic differences in the political

characteristics of councils and the communities which they serve.




In principle, municipal government stands at the very core of the

American political system. So conceived as to serve the smallest consti-

tuency in the nationwide areal division of powers, its place in the fede-

ral system has traditionally been viewed in purely functional terms.1

While Madison and others might have intended such an areal division as

part of the cure for the mischiefs of faction, legal doctrine and the vast

body of American political theory came to regard cities as entities with

limited jurisdiction, and what is worse, limited capacity to solve their

own problems. As such, the ability of municipal governments to exercise

powers in service of their constituencies was severely circumscribed. As

municipal corporations, cities often were not extended the inherent right

of municipal self-governance by the courts. Municipalities existed at the

pleasure of the states and frequently languished in their neglect. Gra-

dually, over the last 20 years or so, this position has given way to what
James Sundquist calls a "policy of deference."2 Increasingly, the con-

scious policy of the federal government, and state governments as well,

has been to defer to local judgement. Local political institutions have

acquired a new importance, if not always a new potency.

The Problem and Its Importance

Among the structural pillars of local government stands the city

council or commission. As the basic policy-making apparatus of the city,

the council is nominally charged with matters of taxation, appropriation,


-___________- -- ,

and the supervision of city administration. In fact, however, there is

little concerning the social, political, and physical life of a city into

which its council does not or cannot inject itself. Everything from spon-

soring the local beauty queen to approving the course of genetic research

comes within its purview. For many of the most important issues facing

any municipality, councils serve as public crucibles. In theory at least,

they are used to amalgamate the demands of the citizenry, while charging

the community with commitments.

This description belies the place councils have found in the discus-

sion of urban problems and politics. For most scholars, the machinations

of local councils have been of little importance. The real politics of

the community and the real determinants of local public policy, it has

been argued, are seldom found in institutional bodies such as councils or

in the results of their formal sessions. Persuasively, and at length,

scholars and experienced observers have warned against the dangers of too

formalistic a view of local politics. They look instead to the manner in

which elite preferences are reflected in community choices, to the manner

in which community groups and organizations help shape local policy, and

to the manner in which the socioeconomic context of the city conditions

its policy alternatives.

However, the literature on urban processes has not always reflected

this view. During the first part of this century the importance of formal

structures was presupposed. Since the early 1950's a different perspective

on local government has held sway. During the early years of the century,

the hopes of city government reformers turned on the notion that institu-

tional change would result in better government; the problems with govern-

ment could be resolved in tinkering with the machinery. After the Second

World War, this optimistic view gave way to a period of reflection. Re-

I ~_~

forms appeared to have little effect. To determine why this was the case,

researchers re-examined their assumptions, and began anew to describe the

processes of city governance. For the most part, the workings of govern-

ment dominated the discussions. The concern for "good" government was left

to administrators and amateur philosophers.3

Still, the tradition of reform has not been entirely abandoned. In

the aftermath of the events of the late sixties, a new concern for the a-

bility of local governments to deal effectively with their problems has

arisen. Whether seen in the harsh pronouncements of the Unheavenly City

or in the criticism made of Banfield's iconoclasm, a "new reform' litera-

ture is upon us.4 And the thrust of the new reform movement concerns the

capacity of local government to satisfy the claims of its citizenry, es-

pecially minority and disadvantaged groups. This emphasis carries a re-

newed concern for the institutions of local government.

This interest is tempered by the research and concerns of the last

decade, however. There is the explicit recognition, amplified in the last

twenty years of research, that city hall does not itself have the capacity

to govern within the game as it is now played, nor is it an institution

which can be treated independently from the community of which it is a

part. In fact, policy initiatives may be more a function of the objective

resource capabilities of the community than the desires of local decision

makers. Politics itself, it has been argued, may have little impact on lo-

cal policy.5 But even where politics does have a role, public policy, it

is realized, is made in many sites throughout the community, oftentimes

outside of government. Bankers and brokers, planners and bureaucrats, pub-

lic and private--all interact to allocate the values in a municipality.

Municipal public policy is a complex result of many forces.

There are few studies, though, which can comprehend such complexity.

Indeed, this study will not attempt anything so ambitious. The perspec-

tive and research advanced here are aimed at capturing that part of pub-

lic policy which percolates through a city's council or commission. Clear-

ly not all of local policy will be covered. Instead, I have elected to

consider only that portion handled by local councils. Some scholars might

suggest this emphasis represents the triumph of form over substance, of

structure over behavior. This view, I think, is mistaken. Holistic con-

ceptions of political systems can illuminate stubborn problems, but are

difficult to document and research. In deciding to examine city councils

and their role in municipal policy formulation, I have chosen to view

councils as breakwaters for the policy disputes of a community; that is,

as points at which the political ramifications of choice situations may

become evident and highly visible. This constitutes not so much a rejec-

tion of theses on the significance of community forces in making policy,

but rather an appreciation of the ability of governmental units to selec-

tively take sustenance from their surroundings. Collective bodies have

the ability to defy their surroundings or to ratify the situation as it

obtains. For many segments of society, it is only through or with refer-

ence to collective decision-making bodies that recourse from systemic pro-

perties can be had. City councils as possible initiators of change or as

umbrellas of the status quo play an important role in policy formation

for any municipality. If politics can be important for the policies-

adoptedby a community, councils should be involved in the politics and

part of the policy determination. Research on the role of councils in the

formulation of municipal policy should illuminate the fashion in which

politics can impact on policy.

Part of the reason why city councils have attracted so few researchers

probably lies in their failure to appear dramatic. In fact, observing a

council is often an exercise in tedium; the flow of action is difficult

to capture, while the minutia of city governance appears all too evident.

"The casual or occasional visitor to the city council meetings is often

distressed at what he sees; major pieces of legislation passed by unani-

mous vote with little or no discussion, while an hour is spent over the

implications of an apparently minor request for zoning reclassification."6

As with most collective deliberative bodies, debate tends to drag on, and

decisive actions are infrequent. Decisions, when they occur, tend to ter-

minate with unanimous or near unanimous voting.7

In short, councils may appear to bear little resemblance to demo-

cratic bodies "designed to institutionalize conflicts and facilitate the

clarification, crystallization, and resolution of political differences."8

From this perspective, their policy-making role becomes problematical.

In fact, we might well question whether environmental factors or demogra-

phic characteristics do not really determine much of local public policy

as a good portion of the literature dealing with the subject appears to

suggest.9 Perhaps the political decisions made in council chambers have

little effect on local policy when compared to the impact of the charac-

teristics of the city itself. But if councils are breakwaters for the con-

sideration of local policy, then council politics should make a difference,

and in a way which depends on the issues which a council considers and the

politics that is played out among the members.

I have taken such expectations and distilled them into three broad

concerns which I will address in this study. First, at the aggregate le-

vel and for the councils under consideration, this study addresses prob-

lems of municipal expenditures and their relationship to the socioecono-

mic and political, structural characteristics of cities. My intent is to


examine the relationship between these factors in Florida cities and to

isolate major indicators of municipal dynamics which impact upon Florida

council members. This analysis is designed with a view to controlling,

in the subsequent analyses, those aspects of the council members' socio-

economic environment which appear to have the most importance for the

council's allocation of funds. The relevant caveat to be applied in such

analysis is, although one would expect environmental conditions to deter-

mine largely at what level expenditures will be set, politics is likely

to be pivotal in establishing the distribution of rewards and benefits at

that level. The pivotal role of politics is likely to be discovered in

similar socioeconomic situations. Council politics should create dif-

ferent expenditure priorities despite similar socioeconomic contexts.

The second major concern focuses on the relationship between indi-

vidual council members, their characteristics, the nature of the decision-

al structures in which they operate, and the environmental factors that

impinge upon them. The inquiry will center on the manner in which the po-

litical and social milieu of members help determine the prevalence of con-

flict or unanimity on the council, and the manner in which council rela-

tions and member characteristics shape the council's orientation toward

choice situations and the consideration of different policy.issues.

Finally, the investigation deals with the manner in which councils

and members are affected by the types of policy issues which they consid-

er. Do certain types of issues act as triggers which initiate conflict

or promote accord? How do the issues which councils handle affect the po-

litical methods by which councils settle such issues?

Stated briefly then, this study will examine various characteristics

of individual council members and salient aspects of their sociopolitical

environment in order to determine how the structure of decision within


the council is organized and to explain the presence of conflict or con-

sensus among council members. Additionally, different types of policy

issues will be investigated in order to determine if they are associated

with certain patterns of conflict or consensus among the members or with

other aspects of a council member's circumstance. Finally, various as-

pects of local councils will be treated to determine if the political

characteristics of a council make a difference for the types of policy

a council pursues. Do councils establish similar profiles of political

activity in similar socioeconomic settings? Or are there political dif-

ferences among councils with similar contexts which one might reasonably

associate with the peculiar policies of the councils?

The Scope and Limits of the Research

In an attempt to answer such questions, a questionnaire was sent in

the fall and winter of 1974-1975 to 441 council members throughout the

state of Florida asking their opinions on a series of items relating to

council activities. This included their perceptions and attitudes on va-

rious aspects of municipal politics and social issues (see Appendix A).

Every council member elected to office in a city with 10,000 or more re-

sidents was sent a form. These cities represent almost half of Florida's

total population (49.9%), over 60 percent of the total urban population

of the state, and almost 90 percent of all residents living in incorpo-

rated areas.10 Two waves of questionnaires were mailed out; the first in

November, the second in December. Of those asked to participate, 173 re-

sponded or 39.6 percent of the 437 members occupying council seats in this

time period.11 This rate, while itself low, compares favorably with the

return rates reported in other questionnaire-based, mail surveys of coun-

cil members.12 In addition to the mail-out questionnaire, however, face-

to-face interviews were conducted with council members in twelve cities

selected for their socioeconomic similarities. Among those cities, 81.6

percent of the council members were interviewed in sessions that lasted

from 45 minutes to an hour and one-half. In all, 61 cities were repre-

sented in the sample. In 51 of the cities, two or more members responded,

and in 25 cities, a majority of the council members are represented in the


These results naturally limit the general applicability of the find-

ings, especially for those parts of the study which treat the entire sam-

ple of members. On the other hand, within the selected group of cities

where nearly all members responded, the results appear to bear consider-

able validity. The high response rate within this one group allows for

some check on the validity of the entire sample. While such inferences

must be treated with caution, a check of certain design variables in both

portions of the sample reveals the entire group of council members does

not differ significantly from the members who have been sampled more in-

tensively (see Appendix A). Of course, it is difficult to impute total

similarity on the basis of demographic patterns alone. Nonetheless, the

responses do represent a considerable amount of information on the city

politics and council life of communities throughout the state of Florida.

Statistical problems abound, but the end result promises to be worth the


This study is limited by more than its data base. Conceptions of

urban politics that draw their focus narrowly are likely to run afoul

of the open and dynamic nature of municipalities. My concern for coun-

cils issues from the expectation that they stand as the center of a swirl-

ing dynamic interwoven with a city's policy making. My own theoretical

and practical concerns would have led me to encompass additional elements

of the whole, but practical considerations required that I limit the prob-

lem. I am keenly aware of the caution issued by pioneers in the study

of legislative behavior:

The notion of the legislature as a decisional system tends
to limit the focus of inquiry more than seems appropriate
for the purpose of specifying just how legislature and po-
litical system are interdependent. . The decisional ap-
proach ignores the fact that a good deal of legislative be-
havior does not involve decisionmaking at all.13

Yet I believe the approach I have taken to city councils avoids many of

the pitfalls that characterized the decision-making approach per se.

Another limitation of this study should be noted; it does not come

to grips with one of the most significant aspects of institutional policy

making, namely, the issue of non-decision. It has long been realized

"that the most important part of the legislative decision process was

the decision about which decisions to consider."14 Every community has

a systematic agenda consisting of all "issues that are commonly perceived

by members of the political community as meriting public attention and as

involving matters within the legitimate jurisdiction of existing govern-

mental authority."15 Yet the systematic agenda will never be considered

as a whole for inclusion on the institutional agenda. Only certain ele-

ments merit such consideration as a result of the patterns of support and

opposition within the community. But the institutional agenda is impor-

tant not only for those individuals and groups able to control its con-

tent, but also for those segments of the community whose participation

it is able to influence. This is a vital issue in the consideration of

all public policies, however; it has been excluded from explicit consi-

deration in this study for practical reasons. Non-decisions require

that an elaborate set of assumptions be posited about a given situation,

-IC-~r~err I -r Ir

and that all stages of the decision-making process be monitored. This,

in turn, requires an enormous research effort far beyond the scope of this


There is one further, major limitation to this study; that is, the

context in which it is cast. Surveys elicit responses from which a pic-

ture of a social situation can be painted. But the questions used to gen-

erate the responses, and the responses themselves stand as stony datum.

There is little way of assessing the remarks. Only tangentially, through

a member's own colleagues, can the situation be evaluated. Of course, in

those twelve instances where indepth field work was conducted, the overall

perspective can be augmented.- Even here, however, no interviewing of a

systematic nature was done in the community. Thus specific interpreta-

tions may neglect important keys to a more substantial understanding. My

only recourse is to fall back upon the questionnaire itself which was de-

signed so that important questions were re-enforced with internal checks

upon member consistency. Beyond this I must assume that the perceptions

of the members, their responses, are indicative of the situation as it

does obtain at one point in time.

The Argument of the Dissertation

In the next few pages, I will preview the shape of the argument de-

veloped in this study. For each chapter, I will present a brief sketch

of the approach used and the major findings.

The study of public policy has increasingly come to turn on the ques-

tion asked years ago by Harold Lasswell, "Who Gets What, When, and How?"16

In particular, recent research on public policy has addressed itself to

the "How" of public policy making and its link to "What" is decided upon.

Focusing upon the distinctions made in the systems approach, numerous re-

searchers have examined the relative importance of environmental variables

as opposed to political variables for policy when measured at the aggre-

age level.17 Others have suggested the solution lies in approaches at-

tentive to group dynamics, mass-elite interactions or community power.18

This study argues that the concern should be directed toward the concep-

tual issue of choice and its social manifestations. In fact, it argues

the conceptual underpinnings of a policy focus involves a subtle shift

in our image of political man; he is someone with a choice to make.

Municipal policy is formed by many different actors and in several

arenas. In this study, I will consider only the fashion in which the lo-

cal council helps shape policy through the choices it makes. Unlike many

studies of policy-making bodies and city councils in particular, I will

not rely heavily upon the conceptual apparatus associated with interac-

tion theory. In Chapter two, I argue that council actions can be consi-

dered in terms of exchange theoretical propositions. Borrowing from the

legacy of classical economics and primitive utilitarianism, I operate

from a series of assumptions:

1. While men do not seek to maximize profits, they always
seek to make some profit in their social transactions
with others.
2. While men are not perfectly rational, they engage in cal-
culations of costs and benefits in social transactions.
3. While some men do not have perfect information of all
available alternatives, they usually are aware of at least
some alternatives which form the basis for their assess-
ments of costs and benefits.
4. While there are always constraints on human activity, men
compete with each other in seeking to make profit in their
5. While economic transactions are typified by material goals
in the economic marketplace, men also exchange other, non-
material commodities, such as sentiments and services of
various kinds.19

In addition, my conception of social organization also includes the no-

tion of strategic interaction. That is, the behavior of an invididual

in a group is conditioned and predicated upon expectations regarding the

behaviors of others in the group.




Of course, the major difficulty posed by this framework is the con-

cept of "costs" and its measurement. While there is no general agreement

over the manner in which costs can be operationalized in empirical re-

search, the various branches of exchange theory appear to agree costs re-

fer ultimately to the internal calculations of value performed by the in-

dividual actor. Costs are the results of engaging in exchange processes

where an individual's preferences or goals are thwarted in some fashion.

Costs can be dealt with in terms of goals or preferences, but it is the

threat to goal fulfillment which is important. Thus, I have assumed costs

can be measured in the clash of members over issues, over personalities,

over styles. Costs are incurred in the manifestation of conflict.

The point of adopting the exchange framework is to present a means

of drawing the relationship between politics and public policy as deter-

mined in local councils. Specifically, I argue different types of policy

can be expected to emerge from the interaction of two kinds of costs in-

cumbent to council members: 1) those associated with the pattern of de-

mands impinging upon the members from sources external to the council,

and 2) those incurred by policy makers in the formation of decision coa-

litions among the members.20 For example, the more conflictual the po-

licy area, the more likely the policies involved are to be redistributive.

But this framework can also be used to investigate the ways in which coun-

cil members reach decisions. In particular, this approach can be used to

explain the considerable strains toward unanimity that exist in local


The exchange framework provides a means of animating the policy pro-

cess that is typically neglected in the systems view. This neglect is

C _~____

illuminated in Chapter three. At the conceptual level, the systems view

links environmental factors and the political system with policy outcomes

as shown in Figure 1-la. Researchers such as Dye and Hawkins, arguing

within this framework, have established the connection between socio-

economic factors and expenditures using the aggregate characteristics of

cities portrayed in census statistics.21 Yet their specification of the

systems model has been quite ambiguous. Without an explicit considera-

tion of the role played by policy-making institutions such as city coun-

cils, any number of hypotheses can link socioeconomic factors and various

expenditure measures. Nonetheless, their findings stand. Socioeconomic

factors appear to condition the pursuit of certain public policies. The

objective social and economic realities of a community can act to impose

constraints on a council member's choice. These factors can confound

the investigation of political behaviors and their link to policy formu-

lation. Thus I have conducted my research with an eye toward capturing

the link between politics and policy by engaging in a dual strategy. In

the macro-phase as shown in Figure l-lb, I examine the link between ag-

gregate measures of socioeconomic factors, certain structural aspects of

city government and a range of expenditure measures for the 78 cities

in Florida having over 10,000 population. In Chapter three, I pursue

this analysis to test whether Florida municipalities differ in these link-

ages from cities around the country and to display in explicit fashion

the strengths and weaknesses of this approach for our understanding of

public policy.

The lessons of the macro-phase were incorporated into the research

design investigating the manner in which the political features of city

councils and their contexts affect municipal policy and expenditures.

~I Crl ~


ISI1 L- IC_lldl P.-

a. Conceptual Level





b. INDICATORS: Macro-phase



c. INDICATORS: Micro-phase

Figure 1-1. The Systems Approach to Policy Outcomes




Chapter four initiates the micro-phase of the research. As shown in Fi-

gure 1-lc, socioeconomic factors were controlled in order to highlight

the relationship between political features and policy. This was done

by grouping the 78 Florida cities into clusters with similar socio-

economic characteristics. Six different group were generated. And

while council members were surveyed in each of the SES clusters, ex-

tensive interviewing was conducted in the cities ranked highest accor-

ding to the socioeconomic status of their citizens. These cities, it

will be shown, exhibit different expenditure patterns, despite their

relatively similar socioeconomic milieu. Extensive interviewing, using

a questionnaire incorporating exchange theoretical notions, helps estab-

lish why this might be.

Figure 1-2 represents an overview of the major conceptual categories

and relationships investigated in Chapters five through nine. These fea-

tures are used to develop the micro-phase inquiry pursued in this study.

In particular, it shows the manner in which policy choices are conditioned

by on-going political machinations in the council and the community and

act as mediators of such political events. Figure 1-3 provides a glimpse

of the analytical variables subsumed within each of the major conceptual

categories together with the relationships to be examined. These vari-

ables and the labelled relationships will be referenced in the discussion

which follows.

Chapter five begins a detailed investigation of council members and

councils throughout Florida aimed at forming an empirical foundation for

the exchange assumptions made in Chapter two. This chapter provides a

description of the characteristics and opinions of the individual coun-

cil members and their councils. It presents their responses on the many




e. 1


Figure 1-2. Overview of the Major Conceptual Categories and
Relationships Investigated in the Micro-phase




Figure 1-3. Overview of the Major Conceptual Categories, Analytical
Variables, and Relationships Investigated in the Micro-
phase of the Study









S e.

Figure 1-3. Continued


A, .





1. Traditional Services
2. Amenities
3. Promoting Economic Growth
4. Arbitrating Between
Conflicting Interests


1. Service Expenditures
2. Service/Newer Public
Works Expenditures
3. Newer Public Works

scales and measures tapping members' personal attributes, perceptions of

contextual factors and council characteristics. It also considers the

manner in which councils with similar socioeconomic environments differ

according to such features.

In the wake of this analysis, council members emerge as conserva-

tives, politically and religiously, whose perceptions of local problems

are dominated by growth-related issues. As with their colleagues across

the United States, Florida council members are predominantly white, male,

businessmen in their forties who tend to be better educated than the rest

of the population. However, their predispositions, their perceptions of

community problems, their reliance on information sources (cues), their

evaluation of influential groups, and the types of relations which obtain

among members on the same council do not appear related, in any systema-

tic fashion, to the socioeconomic milieu of the councils themselves. The

ability of environmental conditions to constrain the attitudes or beha-

viors of city councils appears limited when examined in this fashion.

The univariate analysis presented in Chapter five underwrites the

data search that marks the next stage of the analysis. Among the high

SES cities of Florida, for example, the Boca Raton council evidences

consistent strains of polarization together with rather liberal poli-

tical predispositions. Contrariwise, Cocoa Beach is both conservative

and relatively cohesive. The coincidence of several such measures in

the univariate analysis prompted an examination of the cognitive struc-

tures of the council members and the manner in which these structures

predicate council characteristics.

In Chapter six, links a and b of Figure 1-3 are examined through

a systematic investigation of relationships between the many analytical

te: Y

variables. For example, liberal members are shown to be sensitive to

human resource problems in their community, to perceive people-oriented

groups as important in community decision making, and to be receptive

to information from citizens. In this case, personal attributes are

seen to be associated with certain contextual factors. Further, the

associational measures used in Chapter six help establish the manner in

which certain council member attributes and predispositions favor the

evolution of forms of interaction among members. Predispositions ap-

pear to condition the manner in which a council's members take sustenance

from groups within the community. Conservatives, for example, are much

more likely to attend to the influence of business groups than are po-

litical liberals. Religious conservatives, on the other hand, evidence

a completely different set of tendencies. The thrust of the argument

initiated in Chapter six is that given sets of empirically defined pre-

dispositions and established patterns of council relations may condition

the appearance of conflict among the council members. And if the ex-

change theoretical notions developed in Chapter two are correct, they

should also condition the way in which costs are apportioned to various

types of policies.

In fact, the predispositions of council members and the relations

obtaining among council members do appear to prejudice the manifestation

of conflict in the council. This association, together with the other

relationships specified in link c of Figure 1-3, is investigated in Ghap-

ter seven. Not surprisingly, conflictual relations among the members

such as polarization, stratification and the perception of community

pressure are associated with high levels of council conflict. However,

the most decisive political predisposition biasing conflictual situations

appears to be the degree to which the members evidence religious conser-

vatism. The greater the religious conservatism of the council, the less

conflictual relations will be and the less conflict will surface over

matters of policy. Among high SES cities, issue conflict is most likely

where the differences among the members on religious conservatism are


The amount of conflict which surfaces in a council over matters of

policy or between the council and the city manager may affect the manner

in which the council chooses to decide on matters of policy. No council

faces every issue which comes before it in exactly the same fashion. In

Chapter seven, I argue councils are likely to develop and use a reper-

toire of modes to resolve policy choice situations.

If a council has established a mix of disagreement and agreement

modes by which it organizes itself to resolve most of the issues before

it, then issues which generate considerable costs should evoke disagree-

ment modes. This is the argument pursued in Chapter eight; it examines

the link between decision organization and policy issue conflict shown

in Figure 1-3, relationship d. And it does appear to capture a bit of

the empirical situation. However, councils are frequently able to han-

dle controversial issues within the context of agreement modes which rely

upon bargaining schemes or decision tacts which call upon all members to

work toward amicable agreement. On the other hand, controversial poli-

cies appear to fracture decision schemes based on interpersonal relations

as the foundation for consent.

The analysis presented in Chapter eight demonstrates that ongoing

political procedures developed to handle issue choices can survive even

the most controversial situations. But it also suggests that certain


political arrangements will be unable to withstand the costs of certain

issue decisions. For example, certain policies regardless of the con-

flict they generate, do not engage generalized patterns of member disa-

greement. Members appear to act as though consensus is necessary in cer-

tain policy areas. Similarly, bargaining is typically excluded from is-

sues which generate large amounts of conflict and which attract the at-

tention of significant community groups. Exchange theoretical concep-

tions suggest members will have highly differentiated views of a given

policy; certain policies may have components which act to exclude their

consideration by a given decision mode.

Policies not only evoke decision modes differentially, they also

generate different amounts of decision-making costs and act to galvanize

community groups or citizen actions in different ways. The exposition

developed in Chapter nine examines these relationships, labelled e in

Figure 1-3. It demonstrates that amenities such as public welfare and

community development projects constitute a set of policies quite likely

to provoke council disagreement and community actions. Traditional mu-

nicipal policies such as the provision of police and fire protection

are unlikely to attract such attention.

The analysis developed in chapter nine makes it clear that not

every council is capable of sustaining the political costs necessary

for the pursuit of amenities. Cities which share relatively similar

socioeconomic characteristics may pursue quite different policy priori-

ties. This is exactly the relationship depicted in Figure l-lc and exa-

mined in Chapter ten. The findings buttress the conclusions of Chapter

four. Not only do cities with similar environments spend their monies

differently, they also vary systematically in the substantive policies


they pursue and in the most important issues which surface in their com-

munities. The politics of the cities differ and have different effects.

Not surprisingly, liberal, people-oriented councils where the religious

differences among the members are large are more likely to pursue po-

licies which provide for amenities than conservative, business-oriented


By focusing upon the empirically defined preferences and interests

of council members, it is possible to illuminate the fashion in which

councils help determine the policies of local government. The political

features of the local council are related to the policy priorities of

the community. These political features remain important even when the

socioeconomic context of the council remains relatively constant. But

just as the policy choices of a community are conditioned by the ongoing

political features of the council, so, too, these features may be medi-

ated by the policies considered by the council. As certain policy choices

make their way to the council chamber, their consideration can alter the

the way in which the council does its business. In the end, the formula-

tion and consideration of policy by local policy-making bodies remains

an immensely complex process.


1 Arthur Maas, "Division of Powers: An Areal Analysis," A Theory of
.1 Government, ed. Arthur Maas (Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1959), pp.

2 James Sundquisc, Making Federalism Work: A Study of Program Coordina-
I at cthe Communicy Level (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1969),
'4 7.

3 rlattheu Holden, "The Politics of Urbanization," People and Politics
Jrban Socievt, Vol. VI: Urban Affairs Annual Review, ed. Harlan Hahn
erly iHills: Sage, 1972), pp. 557-602.


5 See Thomas Dye, Understanding Public Policy (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.:
ncice-Hall, 1972) for a discussion of a number of models of policy analysis.
Chapter eleen, Dye concentrates on what I term the demographic model.

6 Robert Horlan, "Life on the City Council: Realities of Legislative
icics," Capitol, Courthouse and City Hall, ed. Robert Morlan (4th ed;
con: Houghcon-Mifflin, 1972), p. 213.

7 Heinz Eulau, "Logic of Rationality in Unanimous Decision-Making,"
ional Decisions, Vol. VII, Nomos, ed. Carl Friedrich (New York: Atherton,
7), pp. 26-54.

S Ibid., p. 29.

9 For a complete survey of this literature, see Brett Hawkins, Politics
Urban Policies (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1971).

10 Calculated from statistics provided in U.S. Department of Commerce,
eau of Census, General Social and Economic Characteristics: Florida, 1970
sus of Population, PC(1)-C11.

11 Responses from four cities indicated four different council seats
e vacant either through death or resignation. The list of council members
obtained using Florida League of Cities, Officials of Florida Municipalities:
4 (Tallahassee, Florida: Florida League of Cities, 1974).

12 The response rates from mail questionnaires are often quite low.
ever, the problem is especially acute when the respondents are not pro-
;sionals of some sort. See Delbert Miller, Handbook of Research Design
SSocial Measurement (New York: McKay, 1964), p. 77. For example, Benedict
ider had a response rate of 40 percent among council members in cities of
r 10,000. See Benedict Kweder, "Beliefs, Attitudes, and Policy Preferences:

~P ~IC~-~ I rl I ----r I r r

Views of Some North Carolina Mayors, Councilmen, and City Managers,"
:. (unpublished), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1972,
87. Lyman Kellstedt had a response rate of 34 percent among Philadelphia
Lcil members. See Lyman Kellstedt, "Precinct Committeemen in the Phila-
,hia Metropolitan Area: An Analysis of Roles,: Diss. (unpublished), Uni-
;ity of Illinois, 1965. Ronald Matheny's response was just 29.3 percent.
Ronald Matheny, "Role Conflict: A Quantitative Analysis of the Urban
Islator," prepared for delivery at American Political Science Association
:ing (Chicago: August 29-September 2, 1974). Only when the researcher is
Sto get the help of governmental officials does the response rate exceed
percent See Ross Robson and James Sheffield, Jr., "Effects of Population
i on Problem Perceptions and Policy Preferences of Local Government Offi-
Ls," prepared for delivery at Annual Convention of the Southern Political
mnce Association (New Orleans, Louisiana: November 7-9, 1974). Additional
)rmation can be found in Eli Cox, III, Thomas Anderson and David Fulcher,
appraising Mail Survey Response Rates," Journal of Marketing Research,
.II (June, 1974), pp. 413-417, and Herbert Blumberg, Carolyn Fuller and
L Hare, "Response Rates in Postal Surveys," Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol.
JIII (March, 1974), pp. 113-123.

13 John C. Wahlke, Heinz Eulau, William Buchanan and Leroy Ferguson,
Legislative System: Explorations in Legislative Behavior (New York:
ey, 1962), p. 378.

14 Raymond A. Bauer, Ithiel de Sola Pool and Lewis Dexter, American
iness and Public Policy: Politics of Foreign Trade (New York: Atherton,
3), p. 404.

15 Roger Cobb and Charles Elder, Participation in American Politics:
Dynamics of Agenda-Building (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1972), p. 58.

16 Harold Lasswell, Politics: Who Gets What, When, How (New York:
raw-Hill, 1936).

17 Hawkins, op. cit.

18 Dye, op. cit.

19 Jonathan Turner, The Structure of Sociological Theory (Homewood,
Dorsey, 1974), p. 212.

20 This approach is adopted from that presented in James Buchanan and
don Tullock, The Calculus of Consent: Logical Foundations of Constitutional
ocracy (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1962).

21 Terry Clark, Community Power and Policy Outputs: A Review of Urban
each (Beverly Hills: Sage, 1973).


"The city is manifestly a complicated thing."I No less is local

government. It stands as an intricate artifice serving several intents.

At base though, local government is charged with performing several po-

licy functions.2 However, municipal public policy issues from many

sources within local government and is conditioned by a welter of commu-

nity forces. In this chapter, I am concerned with sketching a framework

whereby the policy machinations of local councils might be considered.

My focus is narrow. I deal only with city councils and the way in

which they shape policy. But the policies with which councils deal range

across a broad spectrum of concerns. The scope of these matters is not

easily apprehended by many of the perspectives commonly used to analyze

public policy. Moreover, many of these policy perspectives do not faci-

litate investigation of the policy process, and it is in this process

that the council fits. The policy focus I present here turns on the no-

tion of choice and flows from exchange theoretical considerations. This

view seeks to incorporate a regard for the manner in which facets of the

council decision-making process interact with the pressures placed on

the council by forces in the community and thereby shape different poli-

cies. It also recognizes that policies themselves take on meanings

within a political context and act to condition the politics of their


Policy Models and the Policy Focus

While it is true that "policy is not a new concern of political

science," it is nonetheless the case that the last decade has witnessed

a renewed concern with and interest in matters of public policy.3 Cer-

tainly the explosive social events of the sixties and the great number

of federal initiatives in social legislation contributed to this re-awa-

kening. But the phenomenon can also be traced to ongoing discussions be-

tween scholars and a changing view of politics and public policy within

the literature of political science.

"Once upon a time," Charles O. Jones has written, "V.O. Key reflec-

ted on some of the possible consequences of one-party factionalism in

the South. He (Key) was particularly interested in speculating about

the effect of 'disorganized politics' or 'loose factionalism' on the

match between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots.'"4 At the state level,

Key argued, the match usually came down to matters of taxation and ex-

penditure. Viewing politics as "the conflict between those who have and

those who have less," Key speculated that for the South of the late for-

ties an understanding of governmental action was to be found in the vary-

ing shades of political organization within the states. Key searched

the factional arrangements of the southern states for the basis of both

their differences and their similarities.5

However, Key's interest in such arrangements stemmed from a larger

concern with the way in which southern policy preferences over the is-

sue of race helped perpetuate one-party systems. The need to portray a

single front in national political forums such as Congress helped estab-

lish a reliance on a single party for national articulation of policy.

Key felt that "southern political regionalism derives basically from the

~P------;--"-aFlplp-r I~SII~-C- J~II~ILcll~-4~Y I~-WPsP11~6L

influence of the Negro," and he concerned himself with demonstrating the

manner in which this influence affected politics in general and party

politics in particular.6 Key assumed two-party politics might signal a

change in policy, but he recognized changes would not come automatically

with a move to two-party politics.7 Key was intent upon sketching the

broad outlines of policy movement. As a result, his portrayal of the

determinants of public policy avoids a rigidly deterministic conception

of the consequences of organization for policy. Instead, Key's approach

to the consequences of politics for public policy involved a very com-

plex and subtle view of the interplay of forces working within the sou-

thern states.

It is not surprising, of course, that political scientists such as

Key would undertake studies involving the relationship between politics

and policy, and ultimately conclude politics did influence policy. In-

deed, such findings almost seemed axiomatic; the study of politics was

predicated upon its importance for policy. However, not all researchers

have documented this importance.

The level and nature of public expenditure, or the form of public

policy, had always been a relevant concern for economists. And interest-

ingly enough, when such economists attempted to account for the differ-

ences in the levels of spending of the various states, political varia-

bles were seldom included in their models. Economists such as Solomon

Fabricant and Harvey Brazer found certain aspects of the social and eco-

nomic environments of the states were the most important determinants of

spending levels. Factors such as urbanization, income level, and indus-

trialization were viewed as important to the exclusion of political vari-

ables. "In brief, the political scientists, considering only political

variables, found these to be determinants of policy, while the economists,

using only economic variables, found economics to be crucial."8

In an attempt to reconcile the difference between the two perspec-

tives, Dawson and Robinson set out to "discover the relationships among

the extent of inter-party competition, the presence of certain economic

factors, and the extent of nine public welfare policies, using the Ame-

rican States as the units for investigation."9 Dawson and Robinson re-

lied on the well-known model of the political system framed in the work

of David Easton.

At heart, this conception of politics argues

that certain environmental conditions, primarily socio-
economic in nature, combine with certain characteristics
of the political system to produce public policy . .
Policy, in this view, is the outcome of activity or inter-
action among external conditions, political system and
political process. 10

As employed by many scholars, this model was designed to bridge a gap in

previous studies. It was intended to include both political variables

and environmental variables, and to be generally inclusive of a wide

range of political and social situations. Moreover, this model allowed

for a systematic and precise examination of the effects of each of the

variables on measures of public policy through multivariate techniques.

Indeed the synthesis embodied in the model did seem to focus square-

ly upon the determinants of public policy. The Dawson-Robinson study,

like those of Thomas Dye which followed, was able to conclude the role

of political processes in the determination of public policy had been

overdrawn. Dye, for example, suggested that "political science has been

guilty of viewing political life as a closed system."11 The thrust of

ilio Errli-rC L -t-e JI


Dye's findings pointed toward the relative importance of certain external

conditions in the formulations of public policy. Such conditions, he ar-

gued, were more influential in shaping policy than had been suggested in

the writings of many political scientists. However, many political sci-

entists demurred in the wake of such findings. New tacts were taken to

demonstrate the pre-eminence of politics. New variables were introduced

into the model; expenditures were criticized as poor indicators of policy;

additional linkages were specified.12 At best, the results of these ef-

forts were ambiguous. They never seemed to catch the importance of po-

litics for policy which appeared all too obvious to political scientists.

The poignant observations of.scholars such as Key were by-passed in the

refinements of the new approach.

While the faults of the analysis offered by Dye and others have, by

this time, been repeatedly dealt with in the literature of political sci-

ence, one point often goes unnoticed.13 Language both informs thought

and betrays it. The synthesis constructed by Dye and accepted by many

others as the basis for discussion about matters of policy purported to

deal with the same questions raised in previous considerations of the

topic. Heuristically, the simplified systems model promised to clarify

the discussion of public policy and to highlight prominent relationships.

In fact, this seemingly benign simplification significantly altered the

political and economic images embedded in the conceptions of public po-

licy which had preceded it. The terminology persisted, but acted to

serve different ends. The ramifications of the "systems" model used by

Dye and many others entailed a synthesis that was mainly illusion, based

upon a common vocabulary but offering quite different hypotheses about r

the nature of the influences shaping public policy. 0


In most of the discussions that animated the debate over the syn-

thesis suggested by Dye, the concern focused upon the appropriateness

and importance of either political or environmental variables. Hypothe-

ses were offered that talked of the determinants of public policy, but

the form of the hypotheses was typically ignored. The particular form

of the systems model assumed during the debate cast explanation of po-

licy in terms of two alternatives, environmental determinism as opposed

to free-will environmentalism.14 Authors such as Fenton, Lineberry, Fow-

ler, and Clarke who contested the evidence pointing to the importance of

environmental considerations in the determination of outputs responded

with metatheoretical statements about the mediating role of political

processes.15 But, in fact, it was a sense of process which was missing

in most of the hypotheses. The operational measures used in the inves-

tigations were quite varied, and yet researchers grouped them into two

general types--indicators of political processes and indicators of envi-

ronment. The complex dynamics by which various factors acquired import

for public policy were largely neglected. Specifically, in eliminating

the role of policy makers from their direct consideration both sides of

the debate had to content themselves with speculation about the manner

in which variables became important for public policy. Many of the most

important questions about the determination of public policy per force

had to remain unasked and unanswered.

For all the problems of the model developed by Dye, for all the cri-

ticisms of it, for all that, one impression remains. The literature of

political science has been fundamentally changed; its course redirected.

The preoccupation of political scientists with system variables noted by

Dye, while still evident, has given way to a generally shared concern

Pzll`Z* ~F~~~i~-l;lll~i~'~~UIC"~IC19C --`~EI~CE~bn'~

for public policy.16 Even traditional approaches to the study of poli-

tics are being re-evaluated in terms of their ability to shed light upon

considerations of policy.

In the last several years, students of public policy and of munici-

pal government have resorted to several approaches focusing on what Ver-

non Van Dyke has called salient-political-features.17 Lacking a well

defined or established approach to the study of public policy, some au-

thors have argued for the importance of elections in shaping municipal

policy. Local institutions, pressure groups and powerful influentials

have marked the investigations of still other researchers.18 Political

cleavages have also been taken to have meaning for a city's public poli-

cy, and researchers have examined the social and economic characteristics
of municipalities to produce surrogate measures of such divisions.1 In

this view, the political system is viewed "as a more or less competitive

arena in which groups compete for political advantage and in which indi-

viduals take cues for political behavior from the reference groups with

which they identify."20 Social and economic factors have been used to

buttress yet another conception of policy variation which appeals to the

underlying cultural differences of cities. In this view, the "ethos"

discernible in a city's social, economic, and political structures has

an effect upon the types of policies adopted by a city.21

All this is not to argue political influence is unimportant as a

concept or that various models of governance have no merit. To the con-

trary, what the growing body of policy studies in American urban politics

portends is a shift in perspective--one that extends greater importance

to policy and its consequences while encompassing the older concerns for

political influence and community stability. The recent literature

not only echoes the attention given the distribution of values in pre-

vious studies, but also questions the range and scope of policy alterna-

tives available. The much heralded policy focus involves a subtle shift

in our image of political man; he is now seen to be someone with a choice

to make. Politics has become an activity whereby the preferences of

some individuals are selected to be the choices of society.22

Choice, however, has been the point of departure for several concep-

tions of politics. For example, David Easton's attempt to deal with the

"authoritative allocation of values" naturally concerned itself with

choice and the manner in which norms and values in society act to both

limit and define the possible choices by governmental bodies in that so-

ciety. Similarly, the various schools of decision theorists have long

focused upon choice situations. Their manner of speculation on the ra-

mifications of choice for the entire polity is extensive and varied.23

To the extent a policy focus subsumes and borrows from these conceptions,

the approach will stand on the belief that choice is an important "focal

point of the social sciences, uniting normative, structural and behavioral


Yet a policy focus entails more than decision making, more than a

mere concern for choice. "Policy making is the process of making choices,"

as Apter has suggested, but a research focus must be informed by more

than such a simple prescription.25 Perhaps best illustrating this point

is Eulau and Prewitt's insightful disquisition on "What Policy Is Not."26

Policy is not, they argue, a synonym for goals and objectives. It is not

an intent to do something. Nor is it a synomym for particular events in

the policy process, such as the actions of a governing body. And it is

most certainly not mere decisions or actions. Rather, "policy is a strict-

- _1~L_~BB~:

ly theoretical construct that is inferred from patterns of relevant

choice behavior by relevant political actors and the consequences of

choice behavior. . .If the behavioral patterns are consistent and re-

gular, then the existence of policy is inferred and identified."27

Choice is a key element in this formulation; it establishes the basis

for our inference about political man and the political system. But the

policy focus is more than"a theory of one segment."28 In order to be

meaningful, the focus itself must be illuminated by images of man and the

political system which supports its basic thrust. Its application must

handle the contextual relevance called for in Eulau's definition. In

particular, the images animating the focus must be geared for the re-

search in question.

Approaches to the Study of City Councils

A policy focus is fundamental to the problems to which this study

is addressed. However, such a focus cannot stand apart from the problems

themselves. To the contrary, the two complement each other. Moreover,

the tractibility of such problems is likely to vary considerably accor-

ding to the theoretical schemes employed to approach them. In social

science, where various images of man and society abound, some perspec-

tives appear suited for answering certain questions and ill-suited for

others. A brief review will show this to be true of the consideration

scholars have given city councils.

In the last ten years, several authors have attempted to deal with

city councils and their role in the formulation and promulgation of ur-

ban public policy. I will examine four studies. To varying degrees,

each exposition has been illuminated by different images of the politi-

cal system and of political man. Each has contributed valuable insights

into the evolving notion of municipal policy making.

John Crecine's Governmental Problem Solving is the most explicitly

modelled and narrowly conceived of the four. Testing a complicated simu-

lation model of big city budgetary processes against the actual expendi-

tures in Cleveland, Detroit, and Pittsburgh, Crecine postulates a model

consisting of three main elements or processes: a departmental or bureau

process, a moral process, and a city council process. Each interact to

produce a budget. For Crecine, though, "the role of the city council is

a limited one."29 In fact, he argues that the city council has only se-

ven feasible strategies for dealing with a mayor's proposed budget.30

As Crecine views the budgetary process, the serious constraints upon the

council in terms of time, expertness, and information make it little more

than a rubber stamp for the mayor's proposals. Thus it is not surprising

Crecine finds councils do tend to produce decisions on expenditures close-

ly paralleling those recommended by the mayor.31 Only in cases where

the council chooses to alter the tax rate does Crecine acknowledge dif-

ficulties with this conception.

The thrust of Crecine's conclusions are not dissimilar from those of
Wildavsky and others writing of federal-congressional budgeting. In a

sense, Crecine is saying that if the budget ceiling is fixed, no new re-

venues are raised (his model has a difficult time explaining that aspect

of council behavior), and no catastrophic events hit the community, then

the budget levels, examined by function, will not change very much. The

argument becomes that if very little changes within the community, then

budget levels change very little as well.

This is not to demeanCrecine's work, but rather to caution about its

validity under circumstances significantly dissimilar from those posited.

Certainly it is true that Crecine has captured an aspect of municipal bud-

geting observed in many cities throughout the United States. Namely,


little change does occur from year to year in expenditures, and his as-

sumptions handle this particular phenomenon quite well. However, aside

from the simplified nature of the assumptions of the model, Crecine's

findings are limited by the process he studied--budget making--and the

context from which he gathered his data--large cities with strong mayor

forms of government, cities whose council's have been viewed as rela-

tively weak when compared to other community political actors.32 Clearly

for the problems to be considered in this study, Crecine's approach and

his assumptions seem inadequate.

John Dearlove has offered a different approach. Studying council

activities in Kensington and Chelsea, England, Dearlove starts from a

vastly different perspective than Crecine but nonetheless concludes by

buttressing Crecine's view. Dearlove suggests, after the manner of Cre-

cine, that there are strong tendencies among councils toward policy main-

tenance. However, this tendency flows not from the weakened position

of the council or the constraints upon its information gathering abili-

ties, but rather from the council's strengths. Dearlove concludes that

councils are entities able to control and shape the environment, but,

for several reasons, are not inclined toward change.33

Clearly, though, Dearlove is only considering one side of the coin.

By ignoring the conflictual nature of policy change, he has excluded an

exceedingly important aspect of the policy process. This is not an in-

advertant omission, however, but rather a product of the model used by

Dearlove. He relies extensively upon interaction theory, and more spe-

cifically, on role theory. Role theory, by positing a structured vision

of human behavior based upon regularized expectations, assumes a well

defined and persistent form of social organization.34 The veteran of

any council meeting might recognize the intuitive appeal of this position

for an analysis of council activities. But councils also share the

characteristics of small groups. Consensual aspects may predominate

but there exist strong tendencies toward shifts in behavior.

Additionally, councils are themselves not typical of many organized

small groups. In fact, they might aptly be characterized as organized
anarchies. That is, they are organizations with three general proper-

ties. The first is problematic preference; the council "discovers pre-

ferences through action more than it acts on the basis of preferences."36

Second, although the organization manages to survive and even operate

smoothly, its own processes are not understood well by its members; tri-

al and error procedures predominate. Third, "participants vary in the

amount of time and effort they devote to different domains; involvement

varies from one time to another."37 To the degree these statements ap-

pear to capture salient aspects of council life, the assumptions of role

theory become quite tenuous and of limited use in addressing the prob-

lems motivating this study.

The third of the major studies dealing with city council activities

and public policy was done by Bryan Downes. Quite distinctively, his

research sets out to investigate communities and councils marked by

changing values and divergent community interests. His dissertation,

along with several published articles, focuses upon 37 suburban munici-

palities in the St. Louis region which had experienced varying degrees

of population growth during the fifties. Downes begins his study with

a framework drawn from the work on community conflict conducted by James

Coleman and William Gamson.38

Downes arrives at several conclusions. He finds that councils do

disagree and often, that council decision processes have little effect on M


Hill 1 r~ilriff ~qf^BSR

aggregate measures of a community's policy commitments, that member

background seems to have some association with the policy choices of the

council, and that, in the main, "socioeconomic characteristics are pro-

bably more important determinants of municipal fiscal and land use poli-

cies" than political processes.39 He traces this importance to the man-

ner in which socioeconomic changes manifest themselves in the divergent

values and interests of the new community inhabitants associated with

population growth. This relationship is not an automatic one, however.

Rather different issues surface in different situations and spark vary-

ing degrees of dissension among the council members. For example,

Downes indicates "In very high growth rate communities, issue disagree-

ments appear to be largely a function of enduring factions, and these

cleavages affect the extent of conflict, on most issues. On the other

hand, in medium growth rate communities, issue disagreements did not ap-

pear to be the result of enduring council splits."40 While certain is-

sues such as zoning and land use planning seem to generate much contro-

versy in most cities, other issues are not clearly associated with growth

patterns or socioeconomic variables.

Downe's study is directed toward many of the same concerns motiva-

ting this research, and hence his approach is of particular interest.

He deals with council conflicts and unanimity. He stresses linkages be-

tween council member characteristics and municipal policy. Yet for se-

veral reasons, Downes' framework appears inadequate for the present pur-

poses. Methodologically the systems framework and the holistic concep-

tion of community are not well suited to considering council members as

the fundamental units of inquiry. When dealing with members, as he often

does, Downes resorts to ad hoc explanations; his theoretical framework

betrays the evidence he musters. Unlike Dearlove, who :--ork-s '-ithlin the

heritage of role theory, Downes' legacy flows from the i.-ellsprings of

conflict theory. When the unit of analysis is the comiiunit', and the

focus is on socioeconomic measures, all is well and Downes is convincing.

However, as Downes stoops to include council members and cieir relation

to policy, he falters. Having assumed council members to be reflections

of the broader community context, the framework fails to establish ade-

quately the link between members and policy, and ignores Dearlove's in-

sights regarding the autonomy of the council. Indeed nost .f D-o.ynes'

indicators of member perceptions only dimly illuminate the manner in

which members help determine-policy. The concern for community differ-

entiation, conflict and policy is salutary, but Downes' approach is un-

likely to produce answers to the puzzles considered in this stud',; it

assumes many of the links this study will investigate.

The City Council Research Project directed by Heinz Eulau and Ken-

neth Prewitt is perhaps the single most ambitious attempt to gauge the

relation between environmental challenges and policy responses in terms

of the purposive actions of decision makers.41 Begun primarily as a con-

tribution to the study of legislative institutions, the project emerged

as a highly complex and intricate view of the entire policy process, and

the most detailed and thorough study of council activities to date. Pro-

lific in number, varied in their focus, the several books and articles

derived from this investigation nonetheless seem to forge a common theme.

Namely, policy positions are emergent responses by decision makers to

the ecological situations and their own predispositions which have been

conditioned by specific policies adopted over time.42 MLuch of this work

argues that there is cognitive adjustment to environmental pressures and

to the previous patterns of decision making. The underlying image of

political man that issues from such conceptions emphasizes his adaptive

qualities, as one who engages in costly processes of social interaction

and who acts under conditions of uncertainty with notions of what has

been done before and what might work at any given moment.

For all its descriptive detail and calculation, however, the City

Council Research Project is supported by a meager theoretical framework.

In fact, little pretense is made at presenting a theoretical framework.

The major work of the project, Eulau and Prewitt's The Labyrinths of De-

mocracy, is content to portray its foundations in the metaphor supplied

in the title. As Eulau and Prewitt explain:

We find the metaphor of governance as a labyrinth prefer-
able to other metaphors used in politics. A labyrinth is
an enclosure with many entrances and exits. Its layout con-
sists of a maze of pathways, but the pathways can be marked
by signs that help one to avoid false moves and lead the
seeker where he wants to go. If the paths are not marked,
trial and error may yet lead to discovery and the long way
back. Democratic governance resembles the labyrinth. The
labyrinth has walls that serve as boundaries but are more
or less porous; it has major arteries and places of assem-
bly but also byways, detours, nooks and crannies. Passing
through the labyrinth may take more or less time, depend-
ing on the continuities and discontinuities in the journey
by what is known or unknown about the terrain.43

Understandably, Eulau and Prewitt wished to avoid portraying democratic

governance in oversimplified terms, to not "reduce the maze of democra-

tic governance to a simple formula."44 However, even this metaphor is

a sort of formula, albeit an intricate one, and to that degree draws the

politics of councils all too harshly. Moreover, this particular formula

seems endowed with few terms with which to model the political context

of councils or from which to draw hypotheses.

Of course, Eulau and Prewitt do animate their metaphor. Implicitly,

the perspectives they develop appear to be variants of interaction theory.

Social intercourse constitutes one of the main thrusts of their work.

In attempting to go beyond the assumptions of the Legislative System,

the authors draw a picture of city councils as adaptive organizations.45

The adaptive aspects of councils are painted in terms of internal pro-

cesses such as stratification, governing styles, communication, task

structure and decisional structures; external linkages such as consti-

tutive processes, petitioning processes and member orientations toward

these phenomena; and finally, policy as a response emerging from purpose-

ful, but adaptive interaction of council members.46

However, the study never goes much beyond these conceptions. Even

these concepts appear with little or no recourse to theoretical concerns

or the vast literature on empirical small group research. The interac-

tion perspective that guides much of their discussion deserts them in

forging the links between council processes and decision structures.

Only in the work of Eyestone and later Zisk does the project face the

task of relating conversion processes to policy outputs in an explicit

fashion.47 But these latter efforts, while themselves imbued with con-

siderable merit, lack the more comprehensive approach and detail that

sets Eulau and Prewitt's study apart. Much more explicitly Eulau and

Prewitt need to examine the kinds of connections which Banfield discussed

years ago; namely, how does the distribution of influence and demands

made upon decision makers combine with the decisional system so as to

explain the types of policy a city council adopts?48

An Exchange Perspective on Policy Making in City Councils

Each of the above studies has its merits. Crecine's successes stem

from his elucidation of portions of the budgetary process and the manner

in which he traces the limitations of the council in a severely constrained

IL - ~. L I~L-l ~ --1 II IC dBFir

political situation. Dearlove, on the other hand, is at his best when

the discussion turns to the extent of council latitude for action and

the means whereby such potential narrows under self-regulating adjust-

ments. The factional aspects of council politics and their importance

in many policy situations are handled deftly by Bryan Downes. His em-

phasis on change and conflict in the urban political scene is a welcome

addition to the literature on council politics and policies. Finally,

of course, Eulau and Prewitt's Labyrinths of Democracy provides the most

extensive and complex view of municipal governance to be found in the

literature. Replete with keen insights and encyclopedic in scope, it

portrays councils as both a product and producer of community policy.

Yet for all these merits, the various perspectives developed by these

authors are not well suited for the problems at hand. While one is well

fashioned to handle conflict and another unanimity or yet another to forge

the link between council activities and public policy, the common deno-

minators are few. Indeed most are not well suited to the notion that the

council itself is the focus of inquiry, the wellspring of a municipal

policy focus.

This study is predicated upon the notion that the council serves as

a breakwater for much of the public policy pursued within a community.

Regardless of its ultimate importance in the determination of a communi-

ty's public policy, the council nonetheless provides one of the few insti-

tutional arenas to which most everyone in the community can have recourse.

Minimally then, much of the potential for changes in community public

policy lies with the council and its politics. In order to capture the

possibilities inherent in the council circumstance, an adequate framework

must amplify the policy focus discussed earlier. If the policy focus


serves to direct our attention to the choices of the members themselves,

then it requires a conception of council politics descriptive of the

important links in the process of forming such policy. Although the

difficulties with the approaches adopted by Crecine, Dearlove, Downes

and Eulau have been described, this study hopes to benefit from their

insights indirectly by incorporating them into a different approach to

the problem. Exchange theoretical considerations will guide this inves-


Most contemporary versions of exchange theory revolve around and

differ with respect to three basic concepts: 1) the idea of utility or

costs and rewards; 2) rationality and its implications with regard to

information, alternatives, and time; 3) strategic interaction or the na-

ture of interpersonal interaction and anticipation among individuals.

As a whole, these concepts provide the link between council members

and public policy.

Most exchange theoretical expositions hold as their basic tenet an

assumption concerning the motivation of individual behavior. In essence,

such assumptions can be summarized as follows: "The representative or

the average individual, when confronted with real choice in exchange,

will choose 'more rather than less. 't50 In general, such propositions

are derived from considerations about an individual's psychological re-

action to various stimuli in terms of his inner needs or internal dispo-

sitions.51 When a person receives or has directed towards him an acti-

vity defined by that person as valuable, he is rewarded.52 Rewards, in

such conceptions, are what contribute to the desire for "more." On the

other hand, an activity that is punitive to the individual, or an alter-

native reward that is foregone in order to get other rewards, is a cost







and makes up what has been called "less." In any case, the idea that

individuals have needs and seek values in their behavioral choices and

transactions is fundamental to exchange theory. Such needs and values

are of course quite diverse and the usefulness of exchange considerations

is to a large part to be found in how such factors are conceived with re-

ference to an empirical situation.

To say that men do have preferences and that in choice they seek

personal values seems reasonable only if such individuals are somehow

able to consistently realize their values in choice. While several ex-

planations can be had for the connection between internal dispositions

and external actions, exchange theory assumes that "people behave as if

they arranged their preferences in some logical pattern."53 That is,

somehow people are able to know which value they seek in a given situa-

tion. Regardless of the approach, the key to understanding the thrust

of exchange theorists on this point is to be found in the concept of ra-

tionality. "Rationality is the something we postulate in people that

makes them behave in a regular way. And the essence of that something

is that people relate their actions to their goals."54 In exchange theory,

man is a teleological entity and rationality is the manifestation of his

movement towards his goals, or desired rewards. Observed regularity is

the proof of the pudding.

While rational behavior may be purposeful, not all exchange theor-

ists view purposeful behavior as rational. This difference stems from

the various ways in which the concept of preference has been approached

by such theorists. Of course, preferences can never be observed directly.

Instead they must somehow be imputed. This inference can be made in ei-

ther of two ways: preference can be revealed or preference can be posited.

In the procedure of revealed preference, we assume ini-
tially that persons behave in accord with logical rules,
e.g., transitivity in ordering. Applying these rules to
choices, we then discover what goals must have existed
in order to lead logically to these choices. Goals are
therefore inferred from a)actual choices and b) assump-
tions about behavior.... In the procedure of posited pre-
ference, we assume initially that an actor has a given
goal (e.g., to win an election, to maximize profit) and
we infer that behaving in accordance with rules of logic
and this goal leads to particular choices. If such
choices actually occur, then we further infer both that
the actor actually does have the assumed goal and that
he behaves in accord with the rules of logic. If such
choices do not occur, then we are at a loss to discover
whether the fault lies in our attribution of logic or
our attribution of goals.55

In fact, there is switching back and forth between the two approaches.

But the use of posited preferences has suffered from a confusion over

their utility and their extensive association with the works of norma-

tive rational theorists.

In part, such confusion results from the failure of many research-

ers to apprehend the full meaning and usage of the term rational in the

context of the underlying notion of preference. If preference is taken

to be revealed in behavior, then the investigator has only to make the

connection between stimuli and behavior; few additional assumptions are

required. On the other hand, theorists using posited preferences re-

quire several additional assumptions. First, a set of preferences must

somehow be identified. Second, an assumption of transitivity is usually

required. Without this assumption to guarantee that persons can somehow

arrange their preferences in some order, the logical relationship between

values and goals would be impossible to establish. Finally, under posi-

ted preference connectivity is required. That is, in some manner the
objects of value in an individual's mind must be comparable. Under con-

ditions of revealed preference, this is no problem. Instead, given a

........ ...... r t L 1 I I -I ....

perspective relying upon revealed preference, the primary difficulty

comes in knowing what irrationality is and in dealing with intensities

of preference.

Regardless of the approach taken, exchange models draw the relation

between internal dispositions and behavior. The manifestation of this

relation comes when an individual, such as a council member, attempts to

gain some benefit. Many conceptions of this process insist that the in-

dividual engages in utility maximization, others argue that people sa-

tisfice, while still others attempt to avoid the issue by concentrating

explicitly upon revealed preferences.56 In any case, the problem cen-

tral to such concerns deals with the way an individual or a council mem-

ber goes about generating different courses of action. That is, how are

alternative choices generated for individual consideration?

Clearly, an awareness of alternatives is critical to the possibility

of choice. In a rational process, an individual must choose his most

preferred alternative, yet the question arises of how the individual de-

termines the set of alternatives for evaluation and what the set may be.57

Under considerations of utility maximization, perfect information is re-

quired. However, this criterion appears untenable in any real council

situation, and thus a more reasonable standard might incorporate Herbert

Simon's famous view that men satisfice. That is, "in the complex envi-

ronment of decision making in the real world, choosers are not aware of

all possible alternatives, so that they choose not the best alternative

but a satisfactory one. They do not maximize, but satisfy."58

The main difficulty with such a notion, however, lies in the manner

in which the individual defines the set of alternatives from which he

ultimately makes his choice. If all possible alternatives are not evi-

dent, then an individual must search in order to establish the set.

How does an individual judge that his search has ended? Simon suggests

that an individual's satisficing level rises and falls with the ease by

which he gains a satisfactory outcome. Simon's description "allows for

a person's coping with the varying costs and benefits of searching for

alternatives across contexts, situations, and time. Thus, what satisfices

is related to the nature of the environment in which the chooser finds

himself, and the method of satisficing allows him to learn about the na-

ture of that environment."59 Under many of the most rigid exchange con-

ceptions, such a dynamic has no part; learning plays no role. Simon's

solution, however, places the choice situation in a context that incor-

porates conception of the interaction between an individual and his en-

vironment as well as his past experiences. Notice that this description

squares with the contextual aspect of policy as defined by Eulau.

The problems posed by assumptions of rationality are manifold. In

this study, only the weakest form of rationality is assumed--that coun-

cil members be able to select among their perceived set of alternatives

one which seems most likely to realize the most benefit in terms of their

goals. The calculus of benefits is based on probabilistic expectations

about the success of certain alternatives in obtaining given outcomes

within a given context.

This calculus involves more though than merely determining what

value is to be maximized. There is a crucial complementarity between

preference and the social dynamic imputed by the assumption of satisfi-

cing. Seldom are values pursued in isolation from the vagarities of

other people's actions. Moreover, even for a given council member, the

pursuit of values changes with time and circumstance. Implicit in most

exchange theoretical perspectives are the familiar notions derived from

economics, of marginal utility, strategic interaction, and externalities.

Pursuing one course of action, usually limits an individual's abili-

ty to actively pursue yet another course. Marginal utility connotes a

situation where additional units of a rewarding activity begin to gene-

rate costs that exceed the benefit received. Under conditions of ration-

ality, when these costs exceed the benefits accrued an individual ceases

his behavior. Of course, an individual will still desire "more rather

than less" but the concept of marginal utility raises the question of

how much more.

The pursuit of values is further constrained within the exchange

perspective by an additional assumption about behavior. Namely, the

complex set of internal calculations involved in the evaluation of per-

ceived alternatives will normally entail considerations about the "pro-

bable choices of others (given each of his own possible actions) when-

ever such choices by others would affect his evaluation of his own alter-

natives."60 Such behavior on the part of two or more interacting indi-

viduals is referred to as strategic interaction. This assumption amounts

to no more than the idea that each person's choice is contingent on the

choices of others. It means that despite the individualistic approach

indicated in exchange theory, there exists an implicit requirement for

the consideration of the collective context of individual decision ma-


The assumption of strategic interaction not only places bounds upon

an individual's attempts to realize his values, it also introduces an

indeterminacy into exchange models not present in many of the traditional

economic models of the market and economic man.62 This indeterminacy is

49 4

the result of the uncertainty concerning individual behavior introduced
by the attention given the actions of others. In a collective body, in-

dividual rationality does not obtain. By creating considerable uncer-

tainty in the likelihood of certain alternatives to produce expected be-

nefits, and by diffusing the correspondence between choice and outcome

for an individual, the predictive aspects of the model are weakened. Ad-

ditionally, such difficulties demonstrate the necessity of tuning the ex-

change perspective more closely to the empirical referent than might other-

wise be the case. General theoretical statements need to be tempered by

additional assumptions about the characteristics of council members and

the council decision-making situation.

The notion of strategic interaction incorporates a familiar concept

into most exchange theoretical expositions--externalities. "An external-

ity exists if at least one person in addition to the subject can alter

the relation between outcome and alternatives with his choice."63 In the

calculations engendered by strategic interaction, it is the evaluation

and computation of perceived externalities which help determine an indi-

vidual's choice. However, in a collective choice situation it is useful

to differentiate between externalities over which a council member has

no control and those costs he incurs through his participation in a col-

lective decision-making process.

The individual's utility derived from any single human ac-
tivity is maximized when his share in the "net costs" of
organizing the activity is minimized. The possible benefits
that he secures from a particular method of operation are
included in this calculus as cost reductions, reductions
from that level which would be imposed on the individual if
the activity which were differently organized. There are
two separable and distinct elements in the expected costs
of any human activity which we want to isolate and to em-
phasize. First, there are costs that the individual ex-
pects to endure as a result of the actions of others over
which he has no direct control. To the individual these

costs are external to his own behavior, and we shall call
them external costs, using the conventional and descrip-
tive terminology. Secondly, there are costs which the in-
dividual expects to incur as a result of his own partici-
pation in an organized activity. We shall call these de-
cision-making costs.64

Buchanan and Tullock argue that expected external costs can only be

eliminated if the decision-making rule by which choice is made requires

unanimous agreement. This is so since the rational individual will not

willingly allow others to impose external costs on him in most circum-

stances. On the other hand, under the rule of unanimity the expected de-

cision costs are quite high since every individual must be party to any

agreement. Thus the rational individual will attempt to reduce these

costs through some sort of balancing or trade-off between the two.65

In order to make meaningful theoretical statements about council

processes and public policy, the discussion above indicates the need for

some rough gauge of the benefits and costs accrued to council members.

The council member must make several judgements before he makes his choice,

weighing the several values that might be involved against the costs he

is able to predict associated with each action. In determining exactly

what the balance might be in a particular choice context, each member re-

lies, necessarily, on his previous experiences and a host of learned re-

sponses. In familiar choice situations, a member is likely to be more cer-

tain of his decision, and more likely to bear costs with an expectation

of benefit. In uncertain situations, a member's expected utility drops

and the importance of cost factors rises. Each member is conditioned by

a system of empirical beliefs, expressive symbols and values which help

define the situation in which he must choose.66 While each member may

pursue purposes of his own within the collective body, his ability to re-

alize these purposes is constrained by his own predispositions about the

manner in which values should be realized, and the costs incurred in

reaching and enforcing the means embodied in such actions. Analytically,

benefits and costs must be viewed in terms of posited preferences and

revealed predispositions.

These notions can be illustrated for city council members by appeal-

ing to the distinctions Richard Fenno has drawn about the motivations of

Congressmen. Fenno has argued that within the House of Representatives

members strive to attain various goals. In particular, he suggests the

importance of the following: re-election, influence within the House,

good public policy, a career beyond the house, and private gain.67 Simi-

lar purposes can be posited for council members. However, a member's e-

valuation of the benefits inherent in such goals cannot be viewed as in-

dependent of the predispositions toward implementing the goals. To use
Rocheach's term,"primitive beliefs" act to structure man's understanding

of his environment, and help guide and inform rather specific goals.68

These primitive beliefs or predispositions are highly valued in them-

selves. Thus a "good policy" goal--for example, the elimination of po-

verty--will be associated with different action alternatives for differ-

ent individuals. Conservative or liberal societal predispositions will

significantly alter the course of action taken or alternative chosen by

an individual despite fundamentally similar goals.

Neither goals nor predispositions are immune from the context of

choice, however. It is the context of choice which determines the exter-

nalities and decision costs against which goals and predispositions are

to be weighed. The goals themselves are best achieved with reference to

different arenas or contexts. For example, "re-election" and "career be-

yond the council" goals appear most likely to involve individuals outside



the council itself, or liable to be balanced against external costs such

as voting publics, special interest groups or powerful community indivi-

duals. "Good policy goals" and "influence within the council goals," on

the other hand, are most likely to be stymied by the structure of rela-

tionships within the council itself or the costs of reaching decisions.

The benefit captured by the "private gain" goal appears to have reference

to costs generated both internal and external to the council.

In a similar fashion, a council member's predispositions are mediated

by the context of the choice situation. However, predispositions, unlike

specific goals, are likely to be quite resilient to short-term circum-

stances, and hence much more important in the determination of public po-

licy. Predispositions which imbue ends with means appear more fundamen-

tally connected to the individual member's ability to absorb costs, ei-

ther external or internal to the council. A member's predispositions con-

stitute the core of his beliefs; actions and alternatives which evoke pre-

dispositions are likely to be perceived as conferring considerable bene-

fit. In choice situations where such predispositions are involved, it

might be expected that the costs a member would be willing to absorb

would be correspondingly high.

The costs a member might be reasonably expected to encounter have

already been considered to be either external to his own control or as-

sociated with the process of reaching a collective decision. The exter-

nal costs liable to an individual member originate from many sources.

First, local legislative politics are conditioned fundamentally by the

relationship of the council member and the electorate. At the local le-

vel, the elected official is joined in what Burke termed, "the strictest

union with his constituents'."69 This union connotes more than virtually

unlimited accessibility to the member by his constituents. It means the

member is not only an official of the community but also an official in

the community. Unlike officials at many other levels of government, the

typical member works, plays, and lives in the governmental unit whose

fate he helps determine. Wrapped as he is in the social nexus of the

community's activities, the council member is exposed to an unusual num-

ber and variety of potential sanctions. These factors have considerable

bearing on a member's ability to be re-elected and/or his future career

within the community.

Second, a council member seldom earns his livelihood from his salary

as a public official. A member typically pursues his council activities

in addition to or in determinant of his regular occupation. Despite the

benefits that may accrue him because of his position, council duties re-

main ancillary to other facets.of his life. Moreover, any motivation to

do otherwise is usually discouraged. Most municipalities re-enforce the

citizen legislator role by providing few services for the council member,

by purposively keeping salaries low, and by limiting the official office

space allotted for council members. In short, a member's ability to gain

from his tenure is heavily conditioned by his relations with the commu-


Severe external costs can also be generated for an individual coun-

cil member if he runs afoul of special interest groups within the commu-

nity or powerful individuals within the community. For a council member

wishing re-election, a career beyond the council, or private gain, choices

made by these individuals can result in great personal costs. In a simi-

lar fashion, the mayor of the municipality or portions of the local bu-

reaucracy can all act to derail a member's ambitions and hopes.

Of course, a council member will have goals within the council it-

self, and many of his actions within the council will be addressed to the

community audience he perceives as most relevant for the minimization of

external costs. Nonetheless the member must also work within the coun-

cil and with the other members. His ability to minimize external costs

will, in part, be a function of his ability to determine the costs in-

curred in decision making. Even in the event where external costs them-

selves are perceived as unimportant (as in the case of some retiring mem-

bers), a member's ability to pursue preferred alternatives still must be

balanced against decision making costs.

In perhaps the most perceptive article dealing with this aspect of

collective choice, Adrian and Press have suggested there are at least

eight decision costs involved in the process of forming a coalition ca-

pable of decision. The costs incorporate "a variety of economic and psy-

chological factors" which are related most intimately to a member's goals

for his tenure in the council, but also bear on his attempts to benefit

in arenas outside of the council.70 Adrian and Press argue decisions in-

clude: 1) informations costs; 2) responsibility costs; 3) intergame costs;

4) dissonance costs; 5) costs of the division of payoffs; 6) inertia

costs; 7) time costs; 8) persuasion costs.71

Analytically, these categories cover an incredible range of situa-

tions and evoke some measure of the complexity involved in attempting to

specify the meaning of costs. As the conceptual basis for an empirical

study, however, their complexity is overwhelming. Thus, in the pages to

follow, I will develop an argument which focuses on a behavioral indica-

tor capable of subsuming the intent of this categorization. The argument

begins by considering the fashion in which costs and choices are inter-


Exchange analysis features the act of choice. But the act of choice

is not simple. For example, different types of issues and different de-

cision-making arrangements should act to produce various contexts for

choice and trigger different member responses. If a decision is seen as

more than just some final choice--as a whole set of activities which con-

tribute to some final choice--then it can be argued that the process of

collective choice may be punctuated by antimonies of various sorts. In

collective bodies, the clashes between individuals are customarily hand-

led in accordance with procedures developed over time by the council bo-

dy. These procedures may be formal or informal. In any case, the pro-

cesses by which an organizaEion reacts to and resolves political rows do

establish themselves. Analytically, Thompson and Tuden identified four

general forms of response.72 Following Simon and March, I have labelled

them 1) problem solving, 2) persuasion, 3) bargaining, and 4) politics.73

Thompson and Tuden suggest that the ways in which decisions are usu-

ally handled evolve as the result of the interaction of two factors (see

Figure 2-1). The first factor is the degree of consensus or disagreement

Preferences About Possible Outcomes:
(Substantive Goals)

Computation in Bargaining in
Bureaucratic Representative
AGREEMENT Structures Structures

Beliefs About [Problem Solving] [Bargaining]
(Means) Majority Judgment Inspiration in
in Collegial "Anomic"
DISAGREEMENT Structures Structures
[Persuasion] [Politics]

Figure 2-1. A Typology of Decision Organization.
Source: adapted from James Thompson and Arthur Tuden, "Strategies, Struc-
tures, and Processes of Organizational Decision," in James Thomp-
son (ed.), Comparative Studies In Administration, (Pittsburgh:
University of Pittsburgh Press), 1959.


among the actors' general orientations towards the means used to reach

some alternative. The second factor is the preferences of the council

members for that alternative. These governing practices emerge over time

as the body acts, time and time again, to resolve the issues that come

before it.

While these are analytic categories and not concrete processing to

be associated with any one council, the assumption is that within a coun-

cil a governing practice or practices develop which minimize the decision

costs for that group of individuals. Such practices have an effect upon

the types of alternatives chosen by the group. For example, in a situa-

tion where there is consensus among the actors over the procedural norms

used to settle a conflict but disagreement over the goals espoused by dif-

ferent actors, then for collective action to occur, bargaining should be

initiated. Yet the fact that a group establishes bargaining as its de-

cision-handling technique has ramifications for the consideration of al-

ternatives which are different from those that would obtain if the group

handled these issues consensually.

This point can be amplified by considering the argument made by

Heinz Eulau which encompasses the interrelationship between individual pre-

dilections on issues and those detected within the entire council.75 He

argues that the organization of decision or "collective articulation" will

be impacted by the specificity or diffuseness of the preferences involved

at the individual level and at the council level. By diffuseness, he

means there is no hierarchy of preference which would give priority in

decision making to one demand over another; while specificity means there

is just such a hierarchy. The interaction of individual level and council

level articulation of preference, Eulau argues, is what determines the

manner in which decision situations are organized. This view is summa-

rized in Figure 2-2.

Articulation of Member:

SPECIFIC Pluralism Monism
Articulation of Group:
DIFFUSE Dictatorship Anarchy

Figure 2-2. Decision Organization and Preference Articulation.
Source: adapted from Heinz Eulau, "Logics of Rationality in Unanimous
Decision Making," in Carl Friedrich (ed.), Rational Decisions,
Nomos VII, (New York: Atherton), 1967, 26-54.

Eulau maintains that collective articulation is likely to be plural

and democratic when the interests of every individual in the group, as

well as those of the group itself, are specifically articulated.76 An-

archic situations are the likely result of situations when the articula-

tion of both the members and the group is diffuse. On the other hand,

when there is an asymmetry between group and individual articulation then

unanimous decision making is a strong possibility. This is because where

the group's articulation is specific and the individual's preference is

diffuse, any individual will incur large costs in attempting to "buck"

the group's decisions. These costs will not be offset from the benefits

he might perceive in acting against the group because the issue does not

involve preferences he highly values. Similarly, if at least some indi-

viduals have specifically articulated preferences and the group as a

whole is diffuse on an issue, then group members having poorly ordered

preferences will incur costs and receive few benefits in opposing even

a minority of their fellow council members.

Eulau's argument demonstrates the real possibility for unanimity in

any situation of collective choice. Notice that highly contested situ-

nations are likely only when both the individual members and the group

preferences are quite specific. Given the external costs and decision-

making costs council members have been assumed to incur, unanimity on

councils would theoretically seem to be the most prevalent mode of arti-

culating preference. Specificity is just too costly.

This remains true even when the context of decision handling is

considered. Both the problem-solving and persuasion modes are readily

conducive to consensual forms of behavior. Under conditions indicating

bargaining, if there exists a specificity of group preferences but a dif-

fuseness of individual preference, then unanimity is quite likely. Since

no specific benefits are to be gained, external costs can be minimized

by a diffusion of responsibility. Moreover, decision making costs, usu-

ally quite- high in a consensual situation, will be lowered by the feli-

city of each member towards bargaining. In short, under such conditions

bargained unanimity will result. If, on the other hand, within the bar-

gaining mode, group interests are diffuse while individual interests are

specific, then unanimity is likely only if there is a failure in ration-

ality. Eulau has suggested failures are possible because unanimity under

such circumstances "serves as a kind of protective screen from responsi-

bility for failure to resolve an issue in those terms in which it was

originally defined by the individual with specific interest himself."77

Thus, in empirical situations, unanimity is the likely result even when

the assumption of individual rationality is made.

All this is not to argue unanimity will characterize every council

decision. Indeed the possibility of conflict is inherent in every situ-

ation where two members have goals or predispositions which are to some

degree incompatible. Costs, however, are extremely high for activists

engaged in conflictual situations. "Expenditures of time become greater,

stressful encounters multiply, information becomes harder to obtain yet

more vital as bluffing strategies are adopted. Even successful activists

find their average net utility reduced."78 Council conflicts are likely

then only when severe costs predicate no other course of action. Coun-

cil conflict can thus signal the presence of substantial costs. And con-

flict can be generated in many ways.

The disjunctive effects of member differences can flow from several

sources. Certainly the goals and predispositions of a member are a fun-

damental and important source. Basic life experiences may well hold the

seeds of conflict. A member's age, his education or occupation will help

determine his subjective evaluation of alternatives and the costs and be-

nefits they represent. In a sense, such experiences act as surrogate in-

dicators for a wealth of behavioral and psychological experiences. They

help establish the manner in which an individual will categorize specific

issues. It can also be assumed that such experiences are important for

establishing the cognitive processes of a member enabling him to formu-

late a way of acting upon alternatives once they have been cast.79 The

learned aspect of behavioral response in the context of such experiences

should produce cognitive processes that are relatively stable through

time. Such stability helps explain why members perceive costs in certain

situations, and why they feel cues taken from certain groups and indivi-

duals will orient them correctly in a given situation.

In the exchange perspective, the conflict or disagreement that char-

acterizes a council is conceived to be the result of a complex nexus that

finds the member at the center. His background (life experience), goals,

and predispositions are fundamental to his response. However, these fac-

tors can be mediated by the manner in which his perceptions subjectively

work to assign weights to various other factors in his environment. Im-

portant groups, habitual interactions with individuals in information ga-

thering forays, the manner in which the decisional structure of the coun-

cil evolves, the importance he attaches to his job; each affects the in-

dividual member's contribution to the collective choice.

While it is both interesting and helpful to consider the general

manner in which council members and their council as a whole interact, it

is specific, alternative policies which engender conflictual or consen-

sual interactions. This is in large measure what Lowi means by "policies

determine politics."80 The political reaction to a policy choice is mea-

sured by council members not only in terms of the institutional costs it

may generate but also in terms of the external costs expected from the

attending publics. Policy content triggers political calculations based

on each member's experientiallydetermined evaluations of the costs atten-

dant to such choices. These calculations, when made by an entire council,

determine the institutional future of a policy alternative.

Salisbury and Heinz have advanced this very argument. They maintain

different types of policy--distributive, redistributive, regulative, and

self-regulative--can be expected to emerge as outputs in relation to the

mix of external and decision-making costs attendant to policy choices

within an institutional setting. They construct a typology that consi-

ders 1) the costs resulting from the pattern of demand impinging upon the

decision makers and 2) the costs incurred by policy makers in forming the

coalition necessary for reaching a decision.81 Figure 2-3 displays their

hypothesized relationships. The thrust of this typology is towards spe-

cifying the conditions under which certain types of policy will be made.


It suggests a given type of policy will accrue, typically, benefits and

costs for various sectors of the community; each policy has characteris-

tics that generate costs for the policy makers.

Costs of Reaching a Decision:

INTEGRATED Redistributive Self-Regulative
Pattern: FRAGMENTED Distributive Regulative

Figure 2-3. The Conditions Under Which Different Policy Types Can Be Ex-
pected To Emerge From City Councils.
Source: Robert Salisbury and John Heinz, "A Theory of Policy Analysis
and Some Preliminary Applications," in Ira Sharkansky (ed.),
Policy Analysis in Political Science, (Chicago: Markham Press),

Salisbury and Heinz argue that a fundamental distinction can be

made between two types of policy. They suggest policies are either struc-

tural or allocative.

By allocative policies we mean decisions which confer di-
rect benefits, material or symbolic, upon individuals and
groups. Structural policies we take to mean policies which
establish authority structures or rules to guide future al-
locations. The latter policies are more abstractly formu-
lated and ambiguous in their effect than the former. Allo-
cative policies may vary along a distributive-redistributive
axis; structural policies may vary as between regulatory and
self-regulatory outcomes.82

The prime difference between these two types of policies is the decision

costs they generate. The presumption is "the more costly it is to orga-

nize the requisite coalition on an issue, the more likely it is that the

policy outcomes will be structural rather than allocative."83 The point

is that in many decisional systems rising information and negotiation

costs together with declining utilities will be countered by adopting

de facto structural rules which call for actual allocations to be deter-

mined elsewhere. Allocative policies are likely to be implemented only

if decision-making costs are low. On the other hand, allocative poli-

cies may well be associated with high costs when merely broug: into the

institutional arena for discussion and deliberation.

Salisbury and Heinz also argue that varying demand patterns impinge

upon the decision makers and affect the types of policies likely to re-

sult from collective choice. Integrated demand patterns, in general,

can confer great benefits or result in great costs. A member can ill-

afford to absorb the possibility of large external costs presented in in-

tegrated demand by acting counter to the wishes of the attentive public.

In the case of fragmented demand, external costs are likely to be much

lower since the member can generate benefits in some portions of the at-

tentive public only to lose in others. Of course, the perception of in-

tegrated or fragmented demand by a member is guided by his general orien-

tation to various segments of the public. In taking his cues from cer-

tain segments of the community, a member provides weights to his percep-

tion of demand. Significant efforts will be necessary for certain groups

to appear important enough and well integrated enough to pose serious ex-

ternal costs for a member. For other groups, a member will be sharply

attuned--high external costs are easily incurred. Thus in most communi-

ties where businessmen are among the most organized and best funded groups,

members are likely to pay inordinant attention to their wishes. The types

of costs and benefits other groups can confer are, in all probability,

much lower.

Distributive, redistributive, regulative and self-regulative poli-

cies result then from the balance of internal and external costs. Yet

this relationship can be determined only if one makes assumptions about

the manner in which the outcomes these policies represent square with po-

sited preferences and costs. The policies cannot be defined merely in

terms of the costs they generate; this would be tautological. Instead

the types must be defined in such a fashion as to relate to the costs

without explicitly involving behavioral manifestations.

One way out of this dilemma is to start with the distinction drawn

by Salisbury and Heinz between allocative and structural policies. Allo-

cative policies confer direct benefits; structural policies do not. Sup-

pose then that the conventional meaning of the terms are used. That is,

distributive policies are perceived to confer direct benefits upon one

or more groups according to previous rules or customary allocations. Re-

distributive policies connote a shift in the operant allocation of values.

In regulatory policy, a rule is established by which government can me-

diate disputes over values that can be harmful in and of themselves to

the public at large. Self-regulatory policy gives this control to bodies

other than governmental entities. Both regulative and redistributive po-

licies hold the possibility of immediate coercion, while, for self-regu-

lative and distributive policies, the possibility seems much more remote.

Intuitively this seems quite agreeable, but the reason is not imme-

diately apparent. When and why is coercion necessary? Lowi comes close

to providing an answer with a quite from David Hume:

Two neighbors may agree to drain a meadow which they possess
in common: because it is easy for them to know each other's
mind; and each must perceive, that the immediate consequence
of his failing in his part, is the abandoning of the whole
project. But it is very difficult, and indeed impossible,
that a thousand persons should agree in any such action; it
being difficult for them to concert so complicated a design,
and still more difficult for them to execute it; while each
seeks a pretext to free himself of the trouble and expense,
and would lay the whole burden on others. Political society
easily remedies both these inconveniences.


Coercion settles the problem of different expectation and utilities. Co-

ercion is used to establish a new set of expectations. This is the case

in the distinction drawn between distributive and redistributive policies.

Only a change in allocations characterizes them. In a sense, regulation

differs from self-regulation in the same fashion. Regulation is one of

the ways governments control societal and individual conduct. It repre-

sents a change from self-regulation wherein the individual controls con-

duct and helps establish societal rules and norms.

Thus the key to understanding the types of policy pursued and made

within city council is in positing the values that are supplanting them.

One such conception of local political values has been offered by Williams

and Adrian in their study of comparative policy making, Four Cities.

They argue that local governments act as though they pursue at least four

values: economic growth, providing or securing life's amenities, main-

taining traditional services, and arbitrating among conflicting interests.85

Traditionally the role of municipalities has been defined in terms of en-

suring economic growth and the maintenance of services.86 Increasingly,

though, the proper role of municipalities has come to encompass the newer

values of providing and securing amenities for its citizens and arbitra-

ting among conflicting interests. For municipalities, these changes re-

present attempts at redistribution and increasing regulations. The self-

regulation represented in older economic growth philosophies has been

challenged by new values. Traditional services are being supplemented

and augmented by new concerns for the well being of citizens.

These notions can be used to animate the original typology offered

by Salisbury and Heinz. Once incorporated into their scheme, new hypo-

theses may be formed as displayed in Figure 2-4.

Costs of Reaching a Decision:

INTEGRATED Amenities Promoting Growth
Pattern: FRAGMENTED Traditional Arbitrating A-
Services among Conflicting

Figure 2-4. Modified Version of Salisbury and Heinz Typology.

The redistributive nature of many amenities will produce a situation

within councils such that policies favoring amenities will only be pro-

duced when decision-making costs are low relative to costs inherent in an

integrated demand pattern. In general, traditional services will pass

through councils with considerable ease since decision-making costs are

likely to be low and the demand pattern fragmented. On the other hand,

regulation seems to capture the essence of arbitrating between conflict-

ing interests. This type of value typically follows structural trends.

"Emphasis is placed upon the process rather than the substance of govern-

mental action."87 While not all arbitration involves regulation, most

regulation will consist of arbitration. In arbitration, the role of go-

vernment is to provide a "neutral" arena in which claims may be resolved.

Such an arena is needed when conflicting demands impinge upon the deci-

sion makers and the internal costs of making a decision become great.

Williams and Adrians' conception of the values promoting community growth

fits into the sense of self-regulation mainly because of the philosophy

which has stood behind such values. Namely, promoting growth has tradi-

tionally manifested itself as the set of municipal policies favoring busi-

ness. When municipal policy did intervene with the economic and popula-

tion growth of the city, it was to provide incentives. In most matters,

business interests were allowed to regulate their own growth. The assump-

tion was that the city might only prosper if its government allowed bu-

siness considerable latitude in determining the conditions in which it

would function.

Even after the relationship between community values and policy

types has been posited, there remain difficulties with the scheme pre-

sented by Salisbury and Heinz. Chief among these is the indeterminacy

associated with member costs. Although various costs and benefits have

been assumed to obtain, the salience of a specific issue for various

costs and benefits is likely to differ from member to member. Policy

content may be subjectively different for different members. In this

case, costs may be a function not only of the subjective unacceptability

of alternatives, but also of the uncertainty and incomparability associ-

ated with the alternatives.88 In other words, conflict among council

members may not be an accurate reflection of the clash of goals and pre-


Within the context of this study, this difficulty will be resolved

by assuming that members are similar in the uncertianty and incomparabil-

ity they assign to the alternatives that flow from the consideration of

an issue. Decision costs will be viewed in terms of the average amount

of opinion disagreement that prevails within the council. As developed

in Chapter eight, council disagreements will be taken as surrogates for

high subjective evaluations of costs. For all its convenience, this re-

presents nothing more than a restatement of the Axelrod hypothesis: the

greater the incomparability of the goals, the greater the conflictual be-


By making disagreement the inverse of policy consensus, this concep-

tion fits squarely into the exchange perspective and encompasses the po-

licy focus. It is the case, however, that in the dynamic assumed to ex-

ist among normative, structural and behavioral factors, policy is a con-

venient, if arbitrary, focus. An issue gains salience and attracts some

patterns of support or opposition outside the council as well as within.

Issues or policies can be characterized by more than their substantive

content. It is important to recognize that policies can be defined in

different ways and their redefinition can affect the costs associated

with a member's stand on various alternatives.

One persuasive statement of the manner in which policies can be re-

defined has been made by Cobb and Elder. They maintain that issues can

be expanded to involve more individuals and groups within the community

to the degree that certain strategies are pursued. These strategies in-

clude attempts to define the matter unambiguousy, to mark its social sig-

nificance, to establish its immediate relevance, to avoid technical dis-

cussion, and to demonstrate its dissimilarity with previous policies.90

Such expansion increases the likelihood that costs will be associated

with positions taken on such issues. Clearly, some issues will become

more risky for council members than others despite a common content.

Conflicts that manage to erupt outside the council, that gain community

wide recognition should be more difficult to deal with.

An issue then has normative aspects which serve to coalesce struc-

tural and behavioral elements in certain fashions. For example, expan-

sion of an issue, means bringing it to different publics, thus activating

various cleavages within the political system. This in turn may even

change the types of issues that are considered within the council. This

facet of the consideration of a policy has serious ramifications for the

empirical investigation of the subject-. It means there might exist no

key by which to identify policies for examination. However, in the ex-

change perspective, even such changes must be considered in terms of the

patterns of habitual response taken by members. Their past behaviors

should give a cue to their future responses.91 Thus I will assume poli-

cies can be identified according to their substantive content. Their

classification captures generalized sorts of costs and benefits which

remain rather constant for the empirical situation.


To summarize, the exchange perspective offered here begins with

the conception that individual choice is fundamental to a policy focus.

Choice, whatever its form, is made within a calculus of costs and bene-

fits whose parameters include a council member's goals and predisposi-

tions as well as the choices made by other council members. Choice may

engender conflict or promote consensus. In either case, the type of po-

licy that emerges from a city council represents a reflection of the

costs involved in collective choice; it turns on the characteristics of

the individuals charged with that choice and the manner in which choice

situations are typically handled. In succeeding chapters, this study

will attempt to demonstrate the importance of such concerns and draw

more concretely many of the elements of policy making in city councils.


1 David Harvey, Social Justice and the City (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins,
1973), P. 22.

2 Roland Liebert, "Municipal Functions, Structures, and Expenditures:
A Reanalysis of Recent Research," Social Science Quarterly, Vol. LIV (March,
1974), pp. 765-783.

3 Ira Sharkansky, "The Political Scientist and Policy Analysis,"
policy Analysis in Political Science, ed. Ira Sharkansky (Chicago: Markham,
1970), P. i.

4 Charles 0. Jones, "State and Local Public Policy Analysis: A Review
of Progress," prepared for delivery at Conference on Political Science and
State and Local Government, American Political Science Association (Biloxi,
Miss.: October 26-29, 1972), p. 12.

5 V.O. Key, Southern Politics (New York: Knopf, 1949), p. 308.

6 Ibid., p. 664.

7 Ibid., p. 674.

8 Stuart Rakoff and Guenther Schaeffer, "Politics, Policy, and Politi-
cal Science: Theoretical Alternatives," Politics and Society, Vol. I (November,
1970), p. 53.

9 Richard Dawson and James Robinson, "Inter-Party Competition, Economic
Variables and Welfare Policies in the American States," The Journal of Politics,
Vol. XXV (November, 1963), p. 265.

10 Rakoff, op. cit., p. 55.

11 Thomas Dye, Politics, Economics and the Public (Chicago: Rand McNally,
1966), p. 299.

12 John Fenton and Donald Chamberlayne, "The Literature Dealing with
the Relationships Between Political Processes, Socioeconomic Conditions and
Public Policies in the American States: A Bibliographical Essay," Polity,
Vol. I (Spring, 1969), pp. 388-404.

13 Herbert Jacob and Michael Lipsky, "Outputs, Structure, and Power:
An Assessment of Changes in the Study of State and Local Politics," The Journal
of Politics, Vol. XXX (May, 1968), pp. 510-538.

14 Harold Sprout and Margaret Sprout, "Environmental Factors in the
Study of International Politics," The Shaping of Foreign Policy, eds. Harold

acobson and William Zimmerman (New York: Atherton, 1969), pp. 43-75. Harold
and Margaret Sprout have argued that the relationship between man and milieu
has been discussed by scholars in five, more or less, distinct ways: (1) en-
vironmental determinism, (2) free-will environmentalism, (3) environmental pos-
sibilism, (4) cognitive behaviorism, and (5) environmental probabilism. En-
vironmental determinism posits an "invariable correlation" between some set
of environmental "causes" and their environing "effects," (see p. 48). Free-
will environmentalism allows an individual more of a choice, but clearly has
environmental influences playing a direct role in his actions. Possibilism
avoids the notion of choice and postulates a set of constraining factors that
will affect the outcome of any course of action. In the possibilist world,
decisions and motivations are the givens of a situation not to be explained.
The cognitive behavior form of hypotheses emphasizes the conception that an
individual reacts to his environment as he apprehends it: it explicitly in-
corporates his past experiences into his future behavior. The distinction is
also drawn here between operational and psychological environments. Finally,
environmental probabilism names a relationship in which choices may be explained
with reference to a hypothetical norm. That is, through an examination of past
behavior and the norm established by it, inferences about future decisions
can be made.

15 One excellent review of this literature is found in Charles 0. Jones,
op. cit. See also Fenton and Chamberlayne, op. cit.; Edmund P. Fowler and
Robert L. Lineberry, "Comparative Policy Analysis and the Problem of Recipro-
cal Causation," Comparative Public Policy: Issues, Theories, and Methods, eds.
Craig Liske, William Loehr and John McCamant (New York: Halsted, 1975), pp.
243-259; and Terry Clark, "Community Structure, Decision-Making, Budget Ex-
penditures, and Urban Renewal in 51 American Communities," American Sociologi-
cal Review, Vol. XXXIII (August, 1968), pp. 576-592.

16 Dye, op. cit., p. 298.

17 Vernon Van Dyke, Political Science: A Philosophical Analysis (Stan-
ford, Calif.: Stanford University, 1960), pp. 131-157.

18 A discussion of these approaches can be found in John Dearlove,
The Politics of Policy in Local Government: The Making and Maintenance of
Public Policy in the Royal Boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea (London:
Cambridge University, 1973). Also, see John Kirlin and Steven Erie, "The
Study of City Governance and Public Policy Making: A Critical Appraisal,"
Warner Modular Publications (Andover, Mass.: Warner Modular Publications,
1973), pp. 1-12.

19 Edward Banfield and James Q. Wilson, City Politics (Cambridge, Mass.:
Harvard University and M.I.T., 1963).

20 Kirlin, op. cit., p. 4.

21 Ibid.

22 William Riker and Peter Ordeshook, An Introduction to Positive
Political Theory (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1973), p. 2.

23 See, for example, Raymond Bauer and Kenneth Gergen, The Study of
policy Formation (New York: Free Press, 1968).


24 David E. Apter, Choice and the Politics of Allocation: A Develop-
ntal Theory (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University, 1971), p. 9.

25 David E. Apter, The Politics of Modernization (Chicago: University
of Chicago, 1965), p. 39.

26 Heinz Eulau and Kenneth Prewitt, Labyrinths of Democracy: Adapta-
tions, Linkages, Representation, and Policies in Urban Politics (Indianapolis:
Bobbs-Merrill, 1973), p. 474.

27 Heinz Eulau, "Policy Making in American Cities: Comparisons in a
Quasi-Longitudinal, Quasi-Experimental Design," General Learning Press Reprint
(New York: General Learning, 1971), p. 2.

28 James March and Herbert Simon, Organizations (New York: Wiley, 1958),
p. 27.

29 John Crecine, Governmental Problem-Solving: A Computer Simulation
of Municipal Budgeting (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1969), p. 99.

30 Ibid., p. 101.

31 Ibid., p. 144.

32 Peter Rossi, Richard Berk and Bettye Edison, The Roots of Urban Dis-
content: Public Policy, Municipal Institutions, and the Ghetto (New York:
Wiley, 1974), p. 34.

33 Dearlove, op. cit., p. 231.

34 Jonathan Turner, The Structure of Sociological Theory (Homewood, Ill.:
Dorsey, 1974), p. 161.

35 Michael D. Cohen, James G. March and John Olsen, "A Garbage Can
Model of Organizational Choice," Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. XVII
(March, 1972), pp. 1-25.

36 Ibid., p. 1.

37 Ibid., p. 2.

38 See James S. Coleman, Community Conflict (New York: Free Press, 1957),
and William A. Gamson, "Rancorous Conflict in Community Politics," American
Sociological Review, Vol. XXXI (February, 1966), pp. 71-80.

39 See Bryan T. Downes, "Issue Conflict, Factionalism, and Consensus in
Suburban City Councils," Urban Affairs Quarterly, Vol. IV (June, 1969), pp.
477-497. See also by the same author "Suburban Differentiation and Municipal
Policy Choices: A Comparative Analysis of Suburban Political Systems," Com-
munity Structure and Decision-Making Comparative Analyses, ed. Terry Clark
(San Francisco: Chandler, 1968), pp. 243-268.

40 Downes, "Issue Conflict, Factionalism, and Consensus in Suburban
City Councils," op. cit., p. 484.

41 The work coming out of the City Council Research Project is quite
varied. The most important pieces published thus far include the following:
Heinz Eulau and Kenneth Prewitt, op. cit.; Betty Zisk, Local Interest Politics:
A ne Way Street (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1968); Robert Eyestone, The
Treds of Public Policy: A Study in Policy Leadership (Indianapolis: Bobbs-
Merrill, 1971); Ronald Loveridge, City Managers in Legislative Politics (Indian-
apolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1971); Heinz Eulau and Robert Eyestone, "Policy Maps
of City Councils and Policy Outcomes: A Developmental Analysis," APSR, Vol.
LXII (March, 1968), pp. 124-143; and Kenneth Prewitt, "Political Ambition,
Volunteerism and Electoral Accountability," APSR, Vol. LXIV (March, 1970), pp.

42 Eulau and Prewitt, op. cit., p. 609.

43 Ibid., pp. 611-612.

44 Ibid., p. 612.

45 John C. Wahlke, Heinz Eulau, William Buchanan and Leroy Ferguson,
The Legislative System: Explanations in Legislative Behavior (New York:
Wiley, 1962).

46 Eulau and Prewitt, op. cit.

47 See Eyestone, op. cit., or Zisk, op. cit.

48 Edward Banfield, Political Influence (New York: Free Press, 1961).

49 Exchange theory is, of course, merely a broad rubric covering many
conceptual variants. Exchange theory flows from the traditional utilitarian
assumptions and concepts which viewed men as rationally seeking to maximize
their material benefits, or "utility," from transactions or exchanges with
others in a free and competitive marketplace. Gradually however, such ideas
have been supplemented and augmented to reflect an awareness of the constraints
of rationality, the plethora of individual values, and the social dynamic of
interpersonal interaction. While it is always risky to generalize about
sociological theory, it is probably safe to identify the following themes as
common to most contemporary exchange formulations:
(1) While men do not seek to maximize profits, they always
seek to make some profits in their social transactions with
(2) While men are not perfectly rational, they engage in cal-
culations of costs and benefits in social transactions.
(3) While men do not have perfect information on all available
alternatives, they are usually aware of at least some alterna-
tives which form the basis for assessments of costs and benefits.
(4) While there are always some constraints on human activity,
men compete with each other in seeking to make a profit in their
(5) While economic transactions in a clearly defined market-
place occur in all societies, they are only a special case of
more general exchange relations occurring among individuals
in virtually all social contexts
(6) While material goals typify exchanges in an economic

marketplace men also exchange other, nonmaterial commodities,
such as sentiments and services of various kinds. (See Jonathan
Turner, op. cit., pp. 212-213.

50 James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock, The Calculus of Consent: Logical
Foundations of Constitutional Democracy (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1962)
p. 18.

51 Turner, op. cit., pp. 211-294.

52 Ibid., p. 264

53 Riker and Ordeshook, op. cit., p. 8.

54 Ibid., p. 12.

55 Ibid., p. 14.

56 Anthony Heath, "Review Article: Exchange Theory," British Journal of
Political Science, Vol. I (January, 1971), pp. 91-119.

57 Sidney R. Waldman, Foundations of Political Action: An Exchange Theory
of Politics (Boston: Little, Brown, 1972), p. 215.

58 Riker and Ordeshook, op. cit., p. 21.

59 Waldman, op. cit., p. 217.

60 Norman Frohlich, Joe Oppenheimer and Oran Young, Political Leadership
and Collective Goods (Princeton: Princeton University, 1971), p. 124.

61 Riker and Ordeshook, op. cit., p. 3.

62 Frohlich, Oppenheimer and Young, op. cit., p. 127.

63 Riker and Ordeshook, op. cit., p. 256.

64 Buchanan and Tullock, op. cit., p. 45.

65 Riker and Ordeshook, op. cit., pp. 272-330.

66 Robert Putnam, The Beliefs of Politicians: Ideology, Conflict, and
Democracy in Britain and Italy (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University, 1973), pp. 1-7.

67 Richard Fenno, Jr., Congressmen in Committees (Boston: Little, Brown,
1973), p. 1.

68 Putnam, op. cit., p. 5.

69 Quoted in Robert Morlan, "Life on the City Council: Realities of
Legislative Politics," Capitol, Courthouse and City Hall, ed. Robert Morlan
(4th ed.; Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1972), p. 212.

70 Charles R. Adrian and Charles Press, "Decision Costs in Coalition
Formation," American Political Science Review, Vol. LXII (June, 1968), p. 556.

71 Ibid., pp. 556-563.

72 James D. Thompson and Arthur R. Tuden, "Strategies, Structures, and
processes of Organizational Decision," Comparative Studies in Administration,
ed. James D. Thompson (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, 1959), pp. 195-

73 March and Simon, op. cit.

74 Eulau and Prewitt, op. cit.

75 Heinz Eulau, "Logics of Rationality in Unanimous Decision-Making,"
Rational Decisions, Vol. VII, Nomos, ed. Carl Friedrich (New York: Atherton,
1967), pp. 26-54.

76 Ibid., pp. 26-30.

77 Ibid., p. 45.

78 Ian Budge, "Consensus Hypotheses and Conflict of Interest: An Attempt
at Theory Integration," British Journal of Political Science, Vol. III (January,
1973), p. 88.

79 Aage Clausen, How Congressmen Decide: A Policy Focus (New York:
St. Martin's, 1973), pp. 12-35.

80 Theodore Lowi, "Four Systems of Policy, Politics and Choice," pub-
lished for participating universities by tne Inter-University Case Program,
Syracuse, New York: November, 1971, p. 3.

81 Robert Salisbury and John Heinz, "A Theory of Policy Analysis and
Some Preliminary Applications," Policy Analysis in Political Science, ed.
Ira Sharkansky (Chicago: Markham, 1970), pp. 39-59.

82 Ibid., p. 3.

83 Ibid.

84 Theodore Lowi, "Decision Making Versus Policy Making: Toward an
Antidote for Technology," Public Administration Review, Vol. XXV (May-June,
1970), p. 31.

85 Oliver P. Williams and Charles R. Adrian, Four Cities: A Study in
Comparative Policy Making (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1963),
p. 23.

86 Ibid., pp. 23-32.

87 Ibid., p. 28.

88 March and Simon, op. cit., p. 117.

89 Budge, op. cit., p. 73.


90 Roger Cobb and Charles Elder, Participation in American Politics:
The Dynamics of Agenda-Building (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1972).

91 Clausen, op. cit.


During the last decade, the demographic approach has dominated re-

search on public policy by political scientists.1 Most often concerned

with financial resources, this approach uses a simplified systems model

adapted from the early work of David Easton to explain variations in po-

licy priorities among different governmental units. Its components are

the now familiar concepts of Easton's political theory: system, input,

output and feedback. But within the demographic approach, these concepts

have assumed new forms. Inputs, which in Easton's work summarize a wealth

of activities having their origin in the performance of the system, are

typically conceived in more primitive fashion. They become the socio-

economic conditions which frame the context of a particular political

system. Outputs, on the other hand, are usually measured by the finan-

cial expenditures of the governmental unit under consideration. And the

political system itself is usually rendered in terms of its structural

characteristics, such as the degree of party government or the type of

government. As a rule, most authors writing within the demographic per-

spective have ignored feedback processes, and, rather, have assumed that

outputs are registered implicitly in a political system's socioeconomic

conditions. The interworkings of this approach, as depicted in the work

of Thomas Dye, are straight-forward. A set of forces in the socioecono-

mic environment interacts with the political system to produce public po-

licy outcomes. Accordingly, the determinants of public policy are to be

found in the nexus of environment and political system.


As a heuristic device, such a simple scheme has powerful appeal.

It seems applicable to a host of problems and to any number of situations.

For the researcher, however, this very generality is the source of many

difficulties. The encompassing conceptual nature of the environment

has lead many authors to comb census documents, extracting as many indi-

cators of socioeconomic conditions as appears reasonable. Scores of in-

dicators have been selected and collected on comparable units of analysis,

usually American cities or states. And for each of the units of analysis,

measures of policy output such as levels of municipal expenditure or per

capital expenditures have been compiled. In an attempt to capture some-

thing of the political system in each of the units of analysis, researchers

have gathered that information about political units which is most gener-

ally available. At the local level, this has included data on governmen-

tal type (whether city manager, mayor or commission form), electoral sys-

tem (whether partisan or non-partisan), election districts (whether ward

or at-large), and the intensity of competition (turnover or party compe-

tition). In short, the approach demands a substantial data gathering ef-

fort with attention to a broad range of variables. The connection be-

tween variables is specified loosely.

Following the lead of fiscal economists who have long attempted to

explain the differences in the level of spending among American cities

and states, most political scientists working within the demographic ap-

proach have resorted to statistical techniques for assistance in sorting

out the influences on expenditures.

The basic methodology is to apply statistical techniques
of correlation.and regression to these sets of variables.
The policy output measures, the dependent variables, are
"explained" to the extent that they are systematically re-
lated to political or environmental system variables. The

explanation is a statistical one--it measures the percen-
tage of inter-case variation in the dependent variable that
is predicted by variation in the independent variable. 0-
ther statistical manipulations can combine or control for
the effect of other variables.2

Early work using this approach, pioneered in political science by

Thomas Dye, appeared to indicate economic and social factors in the en-

vironment were more influential in shaping governmental policies than

were any of the political variables. Indeed, Dye argued most of the sta-

tistical relationships found between political variables and policy out-

comes were a result of the pervasive influence of economic development on

both the political system and the policies chosen in that system.3 His

research indicated that when political factors were controlled for, eco-

nomic development continued to have a significant impact upon public po-

licy. But when the effects of economic development were statistically

controlled, political factors diminished in their importance for public


While there have been extensive criticisms of Dye's work and those

who followed his lead, the contribution of the demographic approach should

not be blurred by admissions of its difficulties.4 A number of generali-

zations about the interrelation of environment, politics and policy can be

drawn from the work founded on this conceptual scheme. In almost every

instance, research has demonstrated large and dense populations correlate

well with general city expenditures and with spending for specific muni-

cipal services. Large minority populations are associated with similar

expenditure patterns. But it is population size which has the most sys-

tematic, independent effect on expenditures. As the size of a city in-

creases, so does its expenditures. And this holds not only for total ex-

penditures, but also for expenditures per capital 5

Authors such as Brett Hawkins have been persuaded such findings can

be interpreted to bear upon the consideration of policy. He suggests

that large, dense and heterogeneous socioeconomic environments generate

demands for services and that city governments often respond favorably to

such demands.6 While this explanation would appear to neglect the manner

in which socioeconomic factors are translated into action demands by a

population, it does frame the larger concern standing behind much of the

demographic analysis. Namely, which is more important in the determina-

tion of public policy, socioeconomic or political factors? Hawkins ar-

gues "that the impact of socioeconomic heterogeneity [on policy] is not

materially affected by any intervening variable."7 In other words, the

political system, its structure and processes have little impact on the

pattern or level of a municipality's expenditures.

Not even the most ardent socioeconomic determinist denies the impor-

tance of intervening political system variables altogether. For example,

Hawkins writes:

a high level of socioeconomic heterogeneity encourages the
retention of politicized, responsive, group-accomodating in-
stitutions and influences other system properties (e.g., a
greater sensitivity to problems on the part of official po-
licy makers that in turn promotes a higher level of expen-
ditures and affects the distribution of policy benefits).8

Moreover, not all studies fashioned from the demographic perspective

have rejected the importance of political factors on policy. Political

factors have been found important in the adaptation of floridation pro-

posals, in the responsiveness by cities to the demands of citizens, and

even, on occasion, in spending priorities.9 In short, the demographic

perspective has not single-mindedly supported the impact of socioeconomic


It remains to be demonstrated whether Florida cities spend their

revenues in a way which highlights their political institutions and prac-

tices or whether socioeconomic factors will prove more important. In

either event, a systematic investigation of the perspective will allow

for a determination of the significant factors bearing on public policies

in Florida cities. It will facilitate an exposition of the worth of the

demographic approach. Moreover, the results will condition further exa-

mination of policy as it is promulgated by municipal councils. These re-

sults can be incorporated into a research design in which council influ-

ence on policy can be studied. In the next few pages, I will specify the

units variables and linkages portrayed in Figure 3-1.

SES Factors

Structural Aspects of Expenditures
City Government

Figure 3-1. The Demographic Perspective: Macro-phase Indicators

The Units of Analysis

The demographic model has had wide currency in the study of municipal

expenditures, but its use has engendered an extended debate. Much criti-

cism surrounding its application has turned on methodological difficul-

ties. For example, it has been argued the reliance on correlations rather
than regression coefficients, the severe problems of multicollinearity,

and the cross-sectional nature of most studies, all act to weaken its

findings.10 However, many of the problems most frequently cited can be

addressed by a careful choice of the units of analysis.

In choosing only Florida cities as the site of my investigation,

many of the confounding factors present in any comparative research pro-

ject are minimized. The municipalities are subject to a common body of

state law,.and state requirements are relatively similar for all cities

throughout the state. Moreover, to the degree urban environments vary

greatly from state to state as the literature on political culture and

state politics indicates, inter-state variations will be controlled.11

There are additional advantages to conducting the research within

a single state. In the demographic model, policy outputs are measured

in terms of fiscal indicators. Research involving expenditures in the

municipalities of a single state is unlikely to suffer from the same

weaknesses as comparative studies involving cities in different states or

regions. Costs should be similar across the sample of cities. Compar-

able services will require similar expenditures because the costs of li-

ving will be relatively uniform. And there is yet another advantage.

Within Florida, municipal expenditures are standardized. In inter-state

comparisons, expenditures are derived from aggregate figures compiled by

different agencies using different procedures. Bookkeeping decisions

vary; transfers are handled differently. This is not true in Florida

where the Commission on Local Government, created by the Florida legis-

lature in 1972, developed a questionnaire which formed the basis of Flo-

rida's Fiscal Reporting, and Uniform Accounting and Budgeting System.12

All the fiscal measures used in this study have been gathered and re-

ported by municipalities on the basis of a common questionnaire.

qIIPYIP 1 111 _1 L Y~~r$ll

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs