Institutional Scholarship

You Won't Gamble in this City Without Paying for It!: An Examination of Neighborhood Opposition to Casinos in Philadelphia

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dc.contributor.advisor McGovern, Stephen J., 1959- Buxbaum, Alexander Andreas 2014-04-24T18:03:42Z 2014-04-24T18:03:42Z 2009
dc.description.abstract In an increasingly interconnected world, one in which economic and political elites tend to dominate national, state, and local affairs, it has become increasingly difficult for an individual's voice to be heard. All too frequently, an ordinary person's vision is quietly ignored as these elites dictate public policy. Unbeknownst to these individuals as they conduct their daily affairs, private and governmental interests are scanning the country in search of places to site large-scale development projects. These projects include, but are not limited to: prisons, wasteincinerators, power plants, casinos, production facilities, sporting arenas, shopping centers, roadways, and high-density apartments. According to Jeffrey Henig, these developers are increasingly able to obtain governmental approvals with little public awareness or input. He deems these covert development efforts more "stealthy" and "elusive" than ever before. In my opinion, Henig's claim is seriously troubling. As Americans, we are supposed to have an accessible and accountable democratic government. We should to be able to trust our local, state, and national politicians to faithful represent our interests. Unfortunately, these officials "oftentimes see their role as being limited to facilitating the visions and plans of developers- rather than facilitating a public vision and plan developed with the input of a wide range of stakeholders." Motivated by the thought of expanding their tax base, and by consequence, their city budget, these politicians oftentimes push projects onto neighborhoods that do not necessarily want them in the first place. In our country, this kind of heavy-handed development should not occur without the people's consent. Hopeful that I could find proof of indigenous groups thwarting elite-driven redevelopment, I began researching grassroots oppositional movements. What I found was provocative, for sure, but not necessarily reassuring. The scholarship on these "Not-In-My-Back-Yard" movements suggested two key points. First, there are instances in which neighborhood organizations have successfully opposed development efforts in their local communities. Second, these cases are more of the exception than the norm. While oppositional groups can have success, they are often undermined by uneven political opportunity structures and by what Randy Stoecker calls, the "wall of capital." In essence, these scholars assert that the odds are stacked heavily against neighborhood residents and their organizations. Naturally, I did not want to believe the existing scholarship. I did not want to accept the fact that neighborhood residents were regularly disenfranchised by development projects driven by top-down forces. Thus, I decided to focus my senior thesis on the ultimate oppositional movement; the movement against casinos in Philadelphia. My thesis begins by discussing various examples of NIMBY-like movements throughout the country within the past three decades. It proceeds to narrow scope, focusing exclusively on the Philadelphia casino controversy. My thesis concludes with an analysis of five community organizations involved in the controversy. Through a close examination of each group's organization structure and tactics, I hope to discover to what extent these factors contribute or detract their overall effectiveness.
dc.description.sponsorship Haverford College. Department of Political Science
dc.language.iso eng
dc.subject.lcsh Casinos -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia
dc.subject.lcsh Casinos -- Social aspects -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia
dc.subject.lcsh NIMBY syndrome -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia
dc.subject.lcsh City planning -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia
dc.title You Won't Gamble in this City Without Paying for It!: An Examination of Neighborhood Opposition to Casinos in Philadelphia
dc.type Thesis
dc.rights.access Haverford users only

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