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Community and Economic Development: Seeking Common Ground in Discourse and in Practice

Raul P. Lejano and Anne Taufen Wessells
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Raul P. Lejano: Department of Planning, Policy, and Design, SE-I, Room 218G, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697-7075, USA, rplejano@yahoo.com
Anne Taufen Wessells: School of Social Ecology, SE-I, Room 226, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697-7075, USA, ataufen@uci.edu

Urban Studies, 2006, vol. 43, issue 9, 1469-1489

Abstract: As communities evolve greater capacities for mobilisation and political action, local issues are finding new entry-points into development and land use planning. In this regard, two strong discourses emerge: that of economic development and community. What are the synergies, antagonisms, or other relationships between these two frameworks? Do policy actors reconcile the differing discourses by appealing to a metanarrative, engaging in a pluralistic or agonistic process, or finding compromise solutions? Are there differing narratives within each of these broad frameworks? This article examines the divergences and convergences of these two discourses. It then focuses on Taylor Yard, a vacant brownfield in downtown Los Angeles, California, to study how policy actors reconciled differing visions for the use of the land. It can be seen that attempts to construct a metanarrative, that of a park, served to create a coalition of policy actors that was powerful enough to overturn a strong pro-industrial narrative. However, the weakness of the metanarrative became evident when tested by the need for explicit action, pointing to the need to fashion movements out of real relationships and grounded action. If discourse is conceived as text, then action requires that text encounter and be shaped by context.

Date: 2006
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