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Site Fights: Divisive Facilities and Civil Society in Japan and the West [Paperback]

by Daniel P. Aldrich
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 18, 2010 0801476224 978-0801476228 1

One of the most vexing problems for governments is building controversial facilities that serve the needs of all citizens but have adverse consequences for host communities. Policymakers must decide not only where to locate often unwanted projects but also what methods to use when interacting with opposition groups. In Site Fights, Daniel P. Aldrich gathers quantitative evidence from close to five hundred municipalities across Japan to show that planners deliberately seek out acquiescent and unorganized communities for such facilities in order to minimize conflict.

When protests arise over nuclear power plants, dams, and airports, agencies regularly rely on the coercive powers of the modern state, such as land expropriation and police repression. Only under pressure from civil society do policymakers move toward financial incentives and public relations campaigns. Through fieldwork and interviews with bureaucrats and activists, Aldrich illustrates these dynamics with case studies from Japan, France, and the United States. The incidents highlighted in Site Fights stress the importance of developing engaged civil society even in the absence of crisis, thereby making communities both less attractive to planners of controversial projects and more effective at resisting future threats.


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Editorial Reviews

Review

Daniel Aldrich has written an extraordinary book in Site Fights..it will be very good for classes on public policy, environmental policy, Japanese politics, and comparative politics. --Mary Alice Haddad, in Governance (Vol 22 No. 4)

How do governments make decisions about siting controversial facilities such as nuclear power plants, dams, and airports?  This is the central research question raised by this extremely well written and highly readable book. --Jennifer Chan, JJPS

Site Fights makes a very important contribution to both the civil society and comparative politics literatures relating to Japan. --Patricia Maclachlan, Journal of Japanese Studies

"The unique contribution of this book lies in its nature as an exercise in comparative public policy. The case studies, which include Japan and France, are very well done and provide empirical evidence for the universal nature of the human reaction to siting dilemmas. They suggest that the strategic interaction between democratic state policy processes and the organizational structure of the civic society involved—including its conventions, values, and legal background—can indeed predict the success or failure of facility siting."—Political Science Quarterly



"Site Fights is an impressive book that pushes the reader to reconsider the role of civil society in state policymaking. It is of great interest to scholars in comparative politics and civil society research, activists, and policymakers alike."—Japanese Journal of Political Science



"Daniel P. Aldrich has written an important book that analyzes the ways in which national bureaucracies interact with anti-project social movements. He explains with impressive empirical evidence why in highly charged policy areas governments sometimes use coercion, whereas in other cases they adopt softer policy instruments."—Ezra Suleiman, IBM Professor and Chair, Department of Politics and Director, Program in Contemporary European Politics and Society, Princeton University

"In Site Fights, Daniel P. Aldrich looks at frictions between state bureaucracies and elements of civil society and posits a model for their interactions and mutual influences over time. He argues that states worry primarily about the strength of civil society in the areas they target for their projects. Therefore, civil societies play a crucial role in the development of a country and its democracy."—Wesley Sasaki-Uemura, University of Utah



"Site Fights is a very rich account of facility siting, an issue that takes on added significance in the case of Japan, where population density is high and land is scarce. The study of Japanese society will benefit from what it says about decision making and the influence of and constraints on the power of civil society in Japan."—Miranda Schreurs, Director of the Environmental Policy Research Centre and Prof. of Comparative Politics at the Free University of Berlin



"Daniel P. Aldrich has produced a fascinating book that investigates how states approach the siting of public nasties comparatively. Integrating the social capital and facility siting literatures, it qualifies the dominant paradigm that states seek to develop controversial projects through open, noncoercive, and participatory strategies. Site Fights will generate a lively scholarly and policy debate about the relationship between the state and civil society in the management of contentious siting politics."—Hayden Lesbirel, James Cook University, author of NIMBY Politics in Japan



"Daniel P. Aldrich provides a fresh look at a familiar and enduring arena of political stalemate. His comparative approach cuts across multiple siting venues and offers important insights that can serve to guide contentious land use decisions."—Barry G. Rabe, Gerald Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan

From the Back Cover

"Daniel P. Aldrich has written an important book that analyzes the ways in which national bureaucracies interact with anti-project social movements. He explains with impressive empirical evidence why in highly charged policy areas governments sometimes use coercion, whereas in other cases they adopt softer policy instruments."--Ezra Suleiman, IBM Professor and Chair, Department of Politics and Director, Program in Contemporary European Politics and Society, Princeton University

"In Site Fights, Daniel P. Aldrich looks at frictions between state bureaucracies and elements of civil society and posits a model for their interactions and mutual influences over time. He argues that states worry primarily about the strength of civil society in the areas they target for their projects. Therefore, civil societies play a crucial role in the development of a country and its democracy."--Wesley Sasaki-Uemura, University of Utah

"Site Fights is a very rich account of facility siting, an issue that takes on added significance in the case of Japan, where population density is high and land is scarce. The study of Japanese society will benefit from what it says about decision making and the influence of and constraints on the power of civil society in Japan."--Miranda Schreurs, Director of the Environmental Policy Research Centre and Prof. of Comparative Politics at the Free University of Berlin

"Daniel P. Aldrich has produced a fascinating book that investigates how states approach the siting of public nasties comparatively. Integrating the social capital and facility siting literatures, it qualifies the dominant paradigm that states seek to develop controversial projects through open, noncoercive, and participatory strategies. Site Fights will generate a lively scholarly and policy debate about the relationship between the state and civil society in the management of contentious siting politics."--Hayden Lesbirel, James Cook University, author of NIMBY Politics in Japan

"Daniel P. Aldrich provides a fresh look at a familiar and enduring arena of political stalemate. His comparative approach cuts across multiple siting venues and offers important insights that can serve to guide contentious land use decisions."--Barry G. Rabe, Gerald Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press; 1 edition (March 18, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801476224
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801476228
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,156,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Daniel P. Aldrich was born in upstate New York and spent his childhood (and much of his adult life) traveling and living abroad. While living in Tokyo, Japan, he began to wonder how Japan - the only country to suffer the effects of atomic weaponry - could have built up such an advanced, commercial nuclear power program. After spending nearly two years carrying out research in rural communities in Japan and France, interviewing more than 100 citizens, bureaucrats, and activists, and summarizing nearly 800 existing studies of the subject, he wrote up his observations in the book SITE FIGHTS: Divisive Facilities and Civil Society in Japan and the West. In 2005 he and his family had their home, car, and all of their material possessions in New Orleans destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. He soon began studying what makes communities and neighborhoods more resilient through more than a year of research in Japan, India, and the Gulf Coast. He published BUILDING RESILIENCE: Social Capital in Post-Disaster Recovery to share these insights on the role of friends, neighbors, and social resources after crisis.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book! February 13, 2008
Format:Hardcover
It is rare to make an original contribution to such mature fields as social movements, state theory, and environmental politics, but Daniel Aldrich's comparative study of divisive facilities is one of the more satisfying books I have read in the past decade. Aldrich shows that states select communities with weak civil societies as sites for airports, dams, and nuclear reactors. Moreover, he shows that states develop their "toolkits" through their interaction with strong civil societies and move away from conventional coercive strategies. Playing both the "lion" and the "fox," strong societies foster sophisticated "machiavellian" state strategies that enable them to control contentious citizens.

The strength of Aldrich's argument comes out in his incisive analysis of variations across facility types and political contexts. The detailed studies of airports, dams, and nuclear reactors show that different facilities engender different political dynamics. Moreover, by comparing the politics of nuclear power in France and Japan, he shows how weak resistance in France led to a reliance on coercion, while strong resistance in Japan caused the state to expand its skill set.

This book does many things well. It is methodologically sophisticated without being esoteric. Its lucid presentation and effective use of interpretative graphs makes the results readily understandable to greenest undergraduate, while its theoretical sophistication will make even the most jaded scholar wish they had written it. This is an ambitious book engaging many literatures and scholars ranging from Japanese politics to social movements to social and political theory and will be fruitfully used in courses from introductory undergraduate courses to advanced graduate seminars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good work May 5, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The author has cool and objective eyes to observe the authentic pictures of Japan as she is. The work is excellent and his critique on Japanese society is fair. I expect his additional works to come.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it! April 30, 2009
Format:Hardcover
Daniel P. Aldrich's Site Fights: Divisive Facilities and Civil Society in Japan and the West is an extraordinarily comprehensive overview of the factors surrounding the placement of unwanted facilities in Japan and France, with some brief mention of conflicts that occurred in the United States. He focuses on three types of facilities in particular: dams, airports, and nuclear power plants. These facilities are both "public goods" and "public bads" in that they provide diffuse benefits to the majority of society in the form of clean drinking water, power, and transportation, but the create high costs that must be paid by a small, geographically isolated chunk of the population. His argument is a simple yet powerful one: civil society affects the placement of controversial facilities. He divides this argument into two main points. States handle initial conflict by avoiding areas with high levels of civil society and thus the most potential for resistance and, when encountering resistance, states use coercion and hard social control first.
As with any book mentioning civil society, Aldrich handpicks his own definition, describing it as "sustained, organized social activity that occurs in groups that are formed outside the state, the market, and the family"(15). This definition is sufficiently vague enough to allow its application to Japan without requiring any messy argument over the existence of a Japanese civil society. He spells out clearly how he measures civil society - through "quality," the depths of connections between individuals and through "relative capacity," the number of individuals in a particular civil society.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book September 21, 2011
Format:Paperback
This book is a great read. It is so easy to read and at the same time provides the reader with in depth analysis of the comparative knowledge about building sites in Japan, France, United States etc. A very well written book by an outstanding professor, who I had the honor of being taught from. Dr.Aldrich is one of a kind.
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