Entrepreneurial city : race, the environment, and growth in Austin, Texas, 1945-2011




Busch, Andrew M., active 2011

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The primary concern of this dissertation is to give historical perspective to the idea of the creative city and the creative, or "new," "knowledge," or "postindustrial" economy that has produced this new form of urban space. Austin, Texas, one of the developed world's premiere creative cities, is used as a test case. Like many urban scholars, I focus on the manifestation of the city as a unique material expression of the capitalist order, and also on the city as a symbolic discourse that has helped to generate its material conditions, including consistent socioeconomic unevenness. In broad outline I am interested in the forces of capitalism that cause cities and regions to grow. I begin with a basic question asked by geographer Allen J. Scott: "How do competitive advantages (including capacities for creativity) of cities emerge, and how might they be enhanced by public action?" In the case of Austin, I argue that the city's competitive advantage was engendered by an ethos that valued free market competition and a focus on the dual economic engines of technology and leisure which city and university leaders identified during World War Two. Austin's economic ideology, which consciously eschewed fordist modes of production in favor of knowledge-based growth associated with the University of Texas, was poised to blossom when macroeconomic ruptures forced massive restructuring associated with globalization during and after the 1970s. The city's inherent advantage as a site of surplus knowledge production for Texas and the Southwest created a highly paid, educated labor market that business people and politicians viewed as the core element of a non-industrial city. Even before the 1970s Austin was well on its way to economic growth through technological accumulation and modes of production that took advantage of skilled labor markets. The creative city thus has a history that must be understood before policy is adopted based on non-transferable conditions of growth.



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