Click for next page ( 142


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 141
8 Research Problems in Metropolitanization and the Significance of Community In this report, a series of important trends affecting urban organiza- tion and life have been discussed on the basis of existing research. However, much more data and analysis are needed to document the timing and quality, the causes and consequences of these changes. An expanded but sharply focused research effort is essential to pro- vide the basic understanding required for the formulation of innova- tive policies. The following list of research problems deserves priority consideration for research funding. DEMOGRAPHIC MOVEMENTS • A careful study of population movements within metropolitan areas is required to identify patterns of residence change, what kinds of people are moving in what directions, the extent of the tendency within racial groups to cluster by socioeconomic catego- ries, the effect of wives joining the labor force on household resi- RESEARCH PROBLEMS IN METROPOLITANIZATION 141

OCR for page 141
dential choices, and the like. For most of these purposes, a cohort or individual life history approach would be most useful. • A full analysis of the character of rural nonfarm population growth is needed. To what extent is this population concentrating in coun- ties adjacent to metropolitan areas; what kinds of people are in- volved; to what extent and in what respects are residents beyond the peripheries of metropolitan areas directly involved in metropol- itan affairs? The relationship of nonmetropolitan to metropolitan areas needs to be reexamined for the purpose of establishing new methods of delineating larger functional units. • Research is needed to discover whether one of the central cities' strengths—the location of regional and national headquarters—is being lost. If, in fact, that is happening, the redistribution outward of people and economic activity will proceed even more rapidly. METROPOLITAN GOVERNANCE • Research should be undertaken to discover what differences exist among suburbs; most research in this area has dealt with city- suburban differences. • A measurement of the need for subsidies from state governments or the federal government can be approximated by comparing a summation of all fiscal resources currently obtained in metropoli- tan areas from local taxation with a summation of all operating costs of local governments within metropolitan areas. • To what extent will the decentralization of government services affect the dollar costs of service delivery? Do other noneconomic gains adequately compensate for the loss of economies of scale? • What are the measurable effects of citizen participation in plan- ning, zoning decisions, and so forth? . How can local governments provide more adequate packages of services desired by their citizens while minimizing costs? How can more adequate procedures be devised for evaluating citizen de- mands for public services? • Experimentation with innovative types of public service centers in local residential districts is needed. Centers would specialize in 142 TOWARD AN UNDERSTANDING OF METROPOLITAN AMERICA

OCR for page 141
providing information about and contacts to the larger web of nonlocal facilities. • What are the effects of property abandonment on the land values of the property immediately affected and adjacent properties? • Measures of public sector productivity are needed. Such measure- ment is essential if it is ever to be possible to say anything significant about the relative efficiency of the public as opposed to the private sector or about differences among governments. • What is the effect of the metropolitan governmental structure on the service delivery system and on the quantity and quality of the services provided? • What is the impact of governmental reorganization on residents' attitudes toward government, on their political behavior, and on the distribution of public resources? • What impact is the environmental movement and the energy crisis having on housing supply and housing choice? INTRAMETROPOLITAN CIRCULATION • Urban mobility in all its forms warrants a substantially greater research investment. One useful but neglected approach would be the analysis of the frequency and distances of daily trips (for all purposes) of various household members, with controls on socio- economic status, family life cycle stage, and size of urban area. . Systematically assembled data on walking are needed: how many trips (as related to number of vehicular trips); how far; for what purposes; and by whom. How do density, land use, and other environmental factors in the urban setting affect walking? Differ- ences in walking ability and willingness to walk as associated with such personal and household characteristics as age, sex, physical condition, income, and personal access to other transportation need to be examined. . The impact of transportation systems on patterns of residential choice needs to be examined. How could transportation systems be adapted to achieve more desirable residential patterns within various metropolitan areas? . Analyses of household budgets on the bases of age, type of RESEARCH PROBLEMS IN METROPOLITANIZATION 143

OCR for page 141
household, and place of residence, with special reference to the proportion devoted to transportation costs, would be useful. • Research designed to provide a basic understanding of the effects of improved communications on the organization and interdepen- dence of metropolitan communities is urgently needed. What so- cial function, for example, do the 400 million daily telephone calls perform? RESIDENTIAL CHOICE • What are the major policy factors that affect residential choice? What factors affect residence choice for members of various socio- economic groups in various types of neighborhoods? When people select a place to live, do they pick only a dwelling unit or also a "neighborhood"? • What is the impact of current housing policies on local housing and residential choice? What new programs would operate more effec- tively and at less unit cost? • What is the impact of the educational system on residential pat- terns? What are the most salient aspects of the educational system for various socioeconomic groups? What changes would have the greatest impact on patterns of residential choice? • What are the impacts of parks, recreational facilities, clean air, streets, water, and physical safety on patterns of residential choice? What aspects of these environmental attributes are most salient for various socioeconomic groups? What changes would have the greatest impact on patterns of residential choice? THE METROPOLITAN EXPERIENCE • Research on urban life needs a holistic conceptualization of the issues—a model distinguishing among levels of analysis. The mod- el's various assumptions must be tested (for example, that life in cities is really significantly more stressful than nonurban life), and they should be tested in cross-cultural contexts. • Because of continued suburban growth, research to provide a better understanding of differences among suburbs as well as their 144 TOWARD AN UNDERSTANDING OF METROPOLITAN AMERICA

OCR for page 141
similarities is needed. Such work must carefully control for extrane- ous variables. • A number of comparative studies of the structures and functions of communities in various parts of the United States should be made to verify the generalizations concerning the evolving nature of American culture. In particular, communitywide or larger-scale studies need to be conducted in counties adjacent to metropolitan areas to determine the extent of their changing social and eco- nomic structure. • Some of the research on urbanism should be directed to testing for contextual effects. The character of an individual's social context (for example, size of college-educated population, number of mi- nority group members) is critical in explaining his behavior. • Network analysis is critical for understanding both how subcultures stay internally integrated and how the diffusion process crosses group boundaries. COMMUNITY SATISFACTION • Further development of measures of neighborhood characteristics that enter into resident satisfaction (for example, school quality, public service quality, and neighbor congeniality) are essential. • Constant monitoring of people's perceptions of the environment and the objective attributes of the environment can be valuable to policymakers. The data indicate what attributes of the environment are deemed important by various segments of the population. This information would be useful in setting priorities for government services and in local legislation. Having both objective and subjec- tive indicators could allow policymakers to lower expectations where this is more feasible than modifying the objective situation. . A conceptual model of influences on community satisfaction should be refined and modified. This can be accomplished as data from empirical studies become available to either confirm or dis- prove hypothesized relationships between model elements. . Adequate measures of objective environmental attributes must be developed. Physical, social, and economic attributes need to be defined and quantified. RESEARCH PROBLEMS IN METROPOLITANIZATION 145

OCR for page 141
• Better methods are needed for measuring the complex concept of satisfaction. What dimensions does it have? THE MICROCOMMUNITY • How are interest in and knowledge about one's neighborhood related to the frequency and distances of daily trips? • Studies of the significance of the neighborhood for various catego- ries of the population, with reference to such things as the fre- quency of neighboring and feelings of mutual trustworthiness and support, are desirable. • How has the decline in the social significance of proximity affected the type and quality of social activity? • How aware are people of their local neighborhood and its contri- bution to their identity? • Is the local neighborhood best understood as a singular territory or as several more or less inclusive territorial groupings where some people define the smaller units as their neighborhoods and others define the entire grouping as their neighborhood? . How do people weigh the significance of special interest groups in the prospects for their future as opposed to that of the local neigh- borhood? • Does participation in special-interest organizations constrain or enhance the likelihood of participation in the local neighborhood? 146 TOWARD AN UNDERSTANDING OF METROPOLITAN AMERICA