Synopses & Reviews
This book examines the roots of America's special patterns of civic engagement, the impact of advocacy groups and socioeconomic inequalities on the democratic process, and the long-term influence of social and cultural changes on voluntary associations and civic participation.
American democracy is in many ways more vital than ever before. Advocacy groups proliferate and formerly marginalized groups enjoy new opportunities. But worrisome trends exist. Millions of Americans are drawing back from involvements with community affairs and politics. Voters stay home; public officials grapple with distrust or indifference; and people are less likely to cooperate on behalf of shared goals. Observers across the spectrum of opinion agree that it is vital to determine what is happening and why --so that Americans can take well-informed, effective steps to revitalize our national community.The book opens with an eagle-eye look at the roots of America's special patterns of civic engagement, examining the ways social groups and government and electoral politics have influenced each other. Other chapters examine the impact of advocacy groups and socioeconomic inequalities on democratic processes and probe the influence of long-term social and cultural changes on voluntary associations and civic participation. The book concludes by asking why social liberation has been accompanied by new inequalities and the erosion of many important forms of citizen leverage and participation.Coming together from several disciplines, contributors include Jeffrey M. Berry, Henry E. Brady, John Brehm, Steven Brint, Elisabeth S. Clemens, Peter Dobkin Hall, Wendy M. Rahn, Kay Lehman Schlozman, Sidney Verba, and Robert Wuthnow.Copublished with the Russell Sage Foundation
Table of Contents
Preface and acknowledgments. Making sense of the civic engagement debate / Theda Skocpol and Morris P. Fiorina -- Part One, Between state and society: roots of American civic engagement. How America became civic / Theda Skocpol, with the assistance of Marshall Ganz ... et al. -- Organizational repertoires and institutional change: women's groups and the transformation of American politics, 1890-1920 / Elisabeth S. Clemens -- National elections as institutions for generating social capital / Wendy M. Rahn, John Brehm, and Neil Carlson -- Part Two, Civic life in a changing society. Professions and civic engagement: trends in rhetoric and practice, 1875-1995 / Steven Brint and Charles S. Levy -- Vital signs: organizational population trends and civic engagement in New Haven, Connecticut, 1850-1998 / Peter Dobkin Hall -- Social change and civic engagement: the case of the PTA / Susan Crawford and Peggy Levitt -- Technological change and associational life / Marcella Ridlen Ray -- Mobilizing civic engagement: the changing impact of religious involvement / Robert Wuthnow -- Part Three, The ironies of contemporary activism. The rise of citizen groups / Jeffrey M. Berry -- Extreme voices: a dark side of civic engagement / Morris P. Fiorina -- Civic participation and the equality problem / Kay Lehman Schlozman, Sidney Verba, and Henry E. Brady -- Advocates without members: the recent transformation of American civic life / Theda Skocpol.