The contributors to Beyond Civil Society argue that the conventional distinction between civic and uncivic protest, and between activism in institutions and in the streets, does not accurately describe the complex interactions of forms and locations of activism characteristic of twenty-first-century Latin America. They show that most contemporary political activism in the region relies upon both confrontational collective action and civic participation at different moments. Operating within fluid, dynamic, and heterogeneous fields of contestation, activists have not been contained by governments or conventional political categories, but rather have overflowed their boundaries, opening new democratic spaces or extending existing ones in the process. These essays offer fresh insight into how the politics of activism, participation, and protest are manifest in Latin America today while providing a new conceptual language and an interpretive framework for examining issues that are critical for the future of the region and beyond.
Contributors. Sonia E. Alvarez, Kiran Asher, Leonardo Avritzer, Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Andrea Cornwall, Graciela DiMarco, Arturo Escobar, Raphael Hoetmer, Benjamin Junge, Luis E. Lander, Agustín Laó-Montes, Margarita López Maya, José Antonio Lucero, Graciela Monteagudo, Amalia Pallares, Jeffrey W. Rubin, Ana Claudia Teixeira, Millie Thayer
Contemporary democracies need to develop a better governance of problems, as all too often, policy is a sophisticated answer to the wrong problem. This book offers a compelling new approach to public policy-making as problem processing, bringing together aspects of puzzling, powering and participation, relating them in interesting and different ways to cultural theory, to issues about networks, to models of democracy and modes of citizen participation. Part of a growing body of work in policy analysis literature, the book is clearly written and accessibly presented, making this an ideal text for academics and postgraduate students.
"Hamer has produced a very well-written ethnographic analysis of development and change among the Sadama, a Cushitic-speaking people living along the Rift Valley...The analysis attempts to show how traditional modes of decision making and living adapt to or are adapted to impinging forces of modernization. Hamer's emphasis on humane development is highly appropriate and his analysis is very successful. The focus on inevitable and constant change, and the continuing evolution of the society, makes this study a particularly useful one because the lessons of the Sadama can be generalized far beyond the boundaries of East Africa. The Sadama's particularistic history is of course unique to this group but the patterns of adaption are far more broadly applicable."—Academic Library Book Review
Anthony Downs's An Economic Theory of Democracy is one of the handful of books that reshaped political science in the post-World War II period. Information, Participation, and Choice traces the influence of Downs's ideas on subsequent research on voters, candidates, and parties in the United States and elsewhere.
Since their publication in 1957, Downs's seminal ideas -- tweedledum and tweedledee politics and the "rationality" of political ignorance and nonparticipation on the part of voters--have shaped an ongoing debate about how politics actually work. The debate pits a public-choice model inspired by microeconomic precepts against a traditional textbook model that presumes a responsible, informed, and civic-minded citizenry and a set of elected officials motivated by concern for the public interest and policy convictions.
The essays comprising Information, Participation, and Choice, by leading political scientists and economists, provide both a summary of Downs's key theoretical insights and an empirical examination of how well models inspired by Downs accurately describe U.S. political competition for Congress and the presidency.
Bernard Grofman is Professor of Political Science and Social Psychology, University of California, Irvine.
The Metaphysical Foundations of Love: Aquinas on Participation, Unity, and Union offers a systematic treatment of St. Thomas Aquinas’s account of the metaphysical relations of unity-to-union and unity-to-participation in God as the key structuring elements to the nature of love and friendship. In general, Aquinas identifies love as the source and summit of the life of each human being. Everything in the created realm issues forth from God’s creative love, and the ultimate end of all human persons is the greatest possible union with God. Aquinas contends that the love of friendship allows for the greatest union between two persons; thus, the greatest union with God takes the form of friendship with him.
Mobilizing Science theoretically and empirically explores the rise of a new kind of social movement—one that attempts to empower citizens through the use of expert scientific research. Sabrina McCormick advances theories of social movements, development, and science and technology studies by examining how these fields intersect in cases around the globe.
McCormick grounds her argument in two very different case studies: the anti-dam movement in Brazil and the environmental breast cancer prevention movement in the U.S. These, and many other cases, show that the scientization of society, where expert knowledge is inculcated in multiple institutions and lay people are marginalized, gives rise to these new types of movements. While activists who consequently engage in science often instigate new methods that result in new findings and scientific tools, these movements still often fail due to superficial participatory institutions and tightly knit corporate/government relationships.
People around the world and throughout history have used music to express their inner emotions, reach out to the divine, woo lovers, celebrate weddings, inspire political movements, and lull babies to sleep. In Music as Social Life, Thomas Turino explores why it is that music and dance are so often at the center of our most profound personal and social experiences.
Turino begins by developing tools to think about the special properties of music and dance that make them fundamental resources for connecting with our own lives, our communities, and the environment. These concepts are then put into practice as he analyzes various musical examples among indigenous Peruvians, rural and urban Zimbabweans, and American old-time musicians and dancers. To examine the divergent ways that music can fuel social and political movements, Turino looks at its use by the Nazi Party and by the American civil rights movement. Wide-ranging, accessible to anyone with an interest in music’s role in society, and accompanied by a compact disc, Music as Social Life is an illuminating initiation into the power of music.
Participation is everywhere today. It has been formalized, measured, standardized, scaled up, network-enabled, and sent around the world. Platforms, algorithms, and software offer to make participation easier, but new technologies have had the opposite effect. We find ourselves suspicious of how participation extracts our data or monetizes our emotions, and the more procedural participation becomes, the more it seems to recede from our grasp.
In this book, Christopher M. Kelty traces four stories of participation across the twentieth century, showing how they are part of a much longer-term problem in relation to the individual and collective experience of representative democracy. Kelty argues that in the last century or so, the power of participation has dwindled; over time, it has been formatted in ways that cramp and dwarf it, even as the drive to participate has spread to nearly every kind of human endeavor, all around the world. The Participant is a historical ethnography of the concept of participation, investigating how the concept has evolved into the form it takes today. It is a book that asks, “Why do we participate?” And sometimes, “Why do we refuse?”
In this survey of political participation in seven nations—Nigeria, Austria, Japan, India, the Netherlands, Yugoslavia, and the United States—the authors examine the relationship between social, economic, and educational factors and political participation.
Participation in America represents the largest study ever conducted of the ways in which citizens participate in American political life. Sidney Verba and Norman H. Nie addresses the question of who participates in the American democratic process, how, and with what effects. They distinguish four kinds of political participation: voting, campaigning, communal activity, and interaction with a public official to achieve a personal goal. Using a national sample survey and interviews with leaders in 64 communities, the authors investigate the correlation between socioeconomic status and political participation. Recipient of the Kammerer Award (1972), Participation in America provides fundamental information about the nature of American democracy.
Faced with budget problems and an aging population, European governments in recent years have begun reconsidering the structure and extent of the welfare state. Guarantees and directives have given way to responsibilities and choice. This volume analyzes the effect of this change on the citizens of Germany, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands, France, Italy and the United Kingdom. It traces the emergence of new discourses around social movements for greater independence, power, and control, and the way these discourses serve to reframe the struggle at hand. Making use of ethnographic research and policy analysis, the authors analyze the cultural transition, tensions, and trajectory of this call toward active citizenship.
Ledwith and Springett's innovative approach bridges the divide between ideas and practice and allows the development of the knowledge that is needed to bring about transformative social change. Their ideas are founded on two premises: firstly, that transformative practice begins in the everyday stories that people tell about their lives and that practical theory generated from these narratives is the best way to inform both policy and practice. Secondly, that participatory practice is a tool for examining this knowledge that allows practitioners to examine the way they view the world and to situate their local practice within bigger social issues. The book will be of interest to both academics and community-based practitioners.
Is the "private" experience of religion counterproductive to engagement in public life? Does the "public" experience of religion contribute anything distinctive to civic engagement? Pews, Prayers, and Participation offers a fresh approach to key questions about what role religion plays in fostering civic responsibility in contemporary American society. Written by five prominent scholars of religion and politics, led by Calvin College's Corwin Smidt, the book brilliantly articulates how religion shapes participation in a range of civic activities—from behaviors (such as membership in voluntary associations, volunteering, and charitable contributions) to capacities (such as civic skills and knowledge), to virtues (such as law-abidingness, tolerance, and work ethic).
In the course of their study the authors examine whether an individual exhibits a diminished, a privatized, a public, or an integrated form of religious expression, based on the individual's level of participation in both the public (worship) or private (prayer) dimensions of religious life. They question whether the privatization of religious life is counterproductive to engagement in public life, and they show that religion does indeed play a significant role in fostering civic responsibility across each of its particular facets.
Pews, Prayers, and Participation is a bold and provocative clarion call to the continuing importance and changing nature of religion in American public life. It will be of particular interest to students and scholars of religion and politics, and culture and politics, as well as general readers with an interest in the impact of religion in the public sphere.
When the 2011 municipal takeover in Flint, Michigan placed the city under state control, some supported the intervention while others saw it as an affront to democracy. Still others were ambivalent about what was supposed to be a temporary disruption. However, the city’s fiscal emergency soon became a public health emergency—the Flint Water Crisis—that captured international attention.
But how did Flint’s municipal takeovers, which suspended local representational government, alter the local political system? In Power, Participation, and Protest in Flint, Michigan, Ashley Nickels addresses the ways residents, groups, and organizations were able to participate politically—or not—during the city’s municipal takeovers in 2002 and 2011. She explains how new politics were created as organizations developed, new coalitions emerged and evolved, and people’s understanding of municipal takeovers changed.
Inwalking readers through the policy history of, implementation of, and reaction to Flint’s two municipal takeovers, Nickels highlights how the ostensibly apolitical policy is, in fact, highly political.
The field of bioethics was deeply influenced by religious thinkers as it emerged in the 1960s and early 1970s. Since that time, however, a seemingly neutral political liberalism has pervaded the public sphere, resulting in a deep suspicion of those bringing religious values to bear on questions of bioethics and public policy.
As a theological ethicist and progressive Catholic, Lisa Sowle Cahill does not want to cede the "religious perspective" to fundamentalists and the pro-life movement, nor does she want to submit to the gospel of a political liberalism that champions individual autonomy as holy writ. In Theological Bioethics, Cahill calls for progressive religious thinkers and believers to join in the effort to reclaim the best of their traditions through jointly engaging political forces at both community and national levels.
In Cahill's eyes, just access to health care must be the number one priority for this type of "participatory bioethics." She describes a new understanding of theological bioethics that must go beyond decrying injustice, beyond opposing social practices that commercialize human beings, beyond painting a vision of a more egalitarian future. Such a participatory bioethics, she argues, must also take account of and take part in a global social network of mobilization for change; it must seek out those in solidarity, those involved in a common calling to create a more just social, political, and economic system.
During the past two decades Cahill has made profound contributions to theological ethics and bioethics. This is a magisterial and programmatic statement that will alter how the religiously inclined understand their role in the great bioethics debates of today and tomorrow that yearn for clear thinking and prophetic wisdom.
Best known for his two-year sojourn at Walden Pond in Massachusetts, Henry David Thoreau is often considered a recluse who emerged from solitude only occasionally to take a stand on the issues of his day. In Thoreau’s Democratic Withdrawal, Shannon L. Mariotti explores Thoreau’s nature writings to offer a new way of understanding the unique politics of the so-called hermit of Walden Pond. Drawing imaginatively from the twentieth-century German social theorist Theodor W. Adorno, she shows how withdrawal from the public sphere can paradoxically be a valuable part of democratic politics.
Separated by time, space, and context, Thoreau and Adorno share a common belief that critical inquiry is essential to democracy but threatened by modern society. While walking, huckleberrying, and picking wild apples, Thoreau tries to recover the capacities for independent perception and thought that are blunted by “Main Street,” conventional society, and the rapidly industrializing world that surrounded him. Adorno’s thoughts on particularity and the microscopic gaze he employs to work against the alienated experience of modernity help us better understand the value of Thoreau’s excursions into nature. Reading Thoreau with Adorno, we see how periodic withdrawals from public spaces are not necessarily apolitical or apathetic but can revitalize our capacity for the critical thought that truly defines democracy.
In graceful, readable prose, Mariotti reintroduces us to a celebrated American thinker, offers new insights on Adorno, and highlights the striking common ground they share. Their provocative and challenging ideas, she shows, still hold lessons on how we can be responsible citizens in a society that often discourages original, critical analysis of public issues.
Large numbers of Americans claim public resources and participate in direct relationships with government through the diversity of welfare programs found in the United States. Most public debates ignore the political importance of these activities, focusing instead on the economic and moral questions raised by welfare policy. By contrast, Unwanted Claims asks how different types of welfare programs, such as social insurance and public assistance, affect the lives of ordinary citizens. The author investigates why citizens turn to welfare programs, how they view the welfare system, and what they learn from experiences in welfare programs about themselves and government. The analysis shows that the welfare system plays a surprisingly important and sometimes contradictory role in modern political life. Depending on their designs, welfare programs can draw citizens into a more inclusive and vibrant democracy or treat them in ways that reinforce their social and political marginality.
Unwanted Claims is a work of political sociology that provides an illuminating account of political life in the U.S. welfare system that should be of interest to scholars, students, policy practitioners, and the general public. Written in a style that minimizes technical jargon, avoids complex statistical presentations, and makes extensive use of clients' own descriptions of their experiences, beliefs, and actions, it offers an accessible and humanizing portrait of welfare participation that challenges conventional wisdom and raises important questions about poverty, welfare, and democracy in America.
Joe Soss is Assistant Professor of Government, The American University.
Venezuela’s Bolivarian Democracy brings together a variety of perspectives on participation and democracy in Venezuela. An interdisciplinary group of contributors focuses on the everyday lives of Venezuelans, examining the forms of participation that have emerged in communal councils, cultural activities, blogs, community media, and several other forums. The essays validate many of the critiques of democracy under Chávez, as well as much of the praise. They show that while government corporatism and clientelism are constant threats, the forms of political and cultural participation discussed are creating new discourses, networks, and organizational spaces—for better and for worse. With open yet critical minds, the contributors seek to analyze Venezuela’s Bolivarian democratic experience through empirical research. In doing so, they reveal a nuanced process, a richer and more complex one than is conveyed in international journalism and scholarship exclusively focused on the words and actions of Hugo Chávez.
Contributors Carolina Acosta-Alzuru Julia Buxton Luis Duno Gottberg Sujatha Fernandes María Pilar García-Guadilla Kirk A. Hawkins Daniel Hellinger Michael E. Johnson Luis E. Lander Margarita López-Maya Elizabeth Gackstetter Nichols Coraly Pagan Guillermo Rosas Naomi Schiller David Smilde Alejandro Velasco