Who Belongs? What Belongs? Rethinking Democratic Accountability through the Growth Coalition and Textual Environment of Downtown Columbus, Ohio
Keywords:Business Improvement Districts
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Comparative Studies Honors Theses; 2006
This thesis examines urban redevelopment projects in downtown Columbus, Ohio, with an interest in evaluating the degree to which contemporary strategies of such projects are performed in a way that is democratically accountable to those social actors for whom they produce social effects. I consider these effects with regard to the boundaries that define the places of urban redevelopment, and, rethinking those boundaries, I address a related concern with how democratic accountability should be evaluated. I approach the issue through recent literature about “Business Improvement Districts.” Narrating the emergence of projects in Columbus that have adopted— piecemeal or wholesale—elements of this BID-model, I present data from participant-observation work and interviews, describing the material and discursive effects of improvement district “symbolic strategies.” I indicate that those effects are not entirely accounted for in the recent literature related to the democratic accountability of the BID-model, and I examine how the leaders of improvement district organizations “perform accountability” in a way that, like the literature, brackets the discursively-evident effects from consideration. In conclusion, towards a revised standard of democratic accountability, I review theoretical considerations related to the place of improvement districts that may help us identify effects not recognized in recent literature, and not accounted for in contemporary redevelopment practices.
College of Arts and Sciences, Honors Program: "Undergraduate Research Scholarship"
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