Who Ran the Cities?

Elite and Urban Power Structures, 1700-2000
Beachy, Robert
Roth, Ralf
Date published: 
September 2005

The question of who actually ran cities in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries has been increasingly debated by urban historians in recent years. As well as trying to understand the distribution of political power, and the rise of broad political participation, the question of how and whether the elite retained influence in the municipal government has attracted much scholarly attention.

It is the purpose of this volume to further our understanding of these issues, and to point to greater understanding of the relationship between elite and "power" in cities. In order to come to workable answers, two fields of research, which unfortunately have often remained separate, have been brought together: the economic, social and cultural history of elite and the political history of power resources and decision-making.

By looking at specific case studies through the lens of these issues, the volume will encourage the reader to challenge common perceptions of a monolithic elite and to replace such perceptions with a more sophisticated view of urban power as an interplay between various economic, social, political and cultural elite groups. To contribute to this complex account of cities, elite, and power, the study brings together different methodological approaches to studying European, as well as American cities and the wider world.