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Structural versus Functional Determinants of New York’s Fiscal Policies towards Metropolitan Transportation, 1904–1990

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 January 2016

Extract

A central concern of both sociological theory and historical inquiry involves the relationships between structure and function. The two foremost grand theories of the past 100 years, structural functionalism and Marxism, posit opposing answers to the question of whether structure determines function, or vice versa. Contemporary studies in fields as diverse as urban politics and organizational sociology continue to draw inspiration from this conundrum, since the “answer” has such profound implications for understanding the driving forces within society and history.

The present article follows in this tradition. An examination of the history of capital finance within transportation is used to elucidate the direction of causality in relationships between structural arrangements, such as the amount and kinds of debt used for capital investment, and functional outcomes, such as growth in new kinds of transportation services.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Social Science History Association 1991

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