email: smcgover@haverford.edu
phone: 610-896-1058
office: Hall 105
Office Hours: Wed. 2-4 p.m.
and by appointment

Research

My research has focused mainly on the politics of urban development in U.S. cities. Who wields power over crucial decisions that shape the urban landscape for many decades? Who benefits and who loses as a result of such decisions? How and why do power dynamics change over time?

My earlier work highlighted the role of ideas, ideology, and political culture in understanding political change in American cities. I tried to identify the mechanisms of political change by highlighting both the top-down influence of political elites exercising strong ideological leadership (e.g. the case of Mayor Stephen Goldsmith in Indianapolis during the 1990s) and the bottom-up impact of the counterhegemonic activism of community groups and other grassroots organizations (e.g. the case of the growth-control movement in San Francisco during the 1980s).

More recently, my research has examined how demographic and other structural changes in American cities have affected urban politics. In a series of articles, I analyzed how an influx of well-educated, politically-engaged newcomers to Philadelphia has transformed the politics of waterfront development in that city since the early 2000s by making policy making more rational, transparent, and inclusive. At the same time, reforms of the waterfront planning process have not yet benefited residents of many underserved communities in Philadelphia.

My current work evaluates the political impact of the so-called "creative class" in Philadelphia and other large U.S. cities. Are they a force for progressive regime change that advocates participatory democracy and an activist role for government in promoting equitable growth or a new manifestation of a ruling elite that winds up advancing its own interests while neglecting diverse populations?

Selected Publications:

Urban Politics: A Reader (Los Angeles: Sage Publications, forthcoming)

"Ambivalence over Participatory Planning within a Progressive Regime: Waterfront Planning in Philadelphia," Journal of Planning Education and Research, vol. 33, no. 3 (September 2013).

"Mobilization on the Waterfront: The Ideological/Cultural Roots of Potential Regime Change in Philadelphia," Urban Affairs Review, col. 44, no. 5 (May 2009).

"Evolving Visions of Waterfront Development in Postindustrial Philadelphia: The Formative Role of Elite Ideologies," Journal of Planning History, vol. 7, no. 4 (2008).

Philadelphia's Neighborhood Transformation Intiative: A Case Study of Mayoral Leadership, Bold Planning and Conflict," Housing Policy Debate, vol. 17, no. 3 (2006)

"Ideology, Consciousness, and Inner-City Revitalization: The Case of Stephen Goldsmith's Indianapolis," Journal of Urban Affairs, vol. 25, no. 1 (2003)

"Neighborhoods, Race, and the State," review essay, Journal of Urban History, vol. 29, no. 6 (Sept. 2003).

Urban Policy Reconsidered: Dialogues on the Problems and Prospects of American Cities, Charles C. Euchner and Stephen J. McGovern (New York: Routledge, 2003)

The Politics of Downtown Development: Dynamic Political Cultures in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. (Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1998)