Democracy at Risk: How Political Choices Undermine Citizen Participation and what We Can Do about it

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Brookings Institution Press, 2005 - 228 páginas
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Voter turnout was unusually high in the 2004 U.S. presidential election. At first glance, that level of participation largely spurred by war in Iraq and a burgeoning culture war at home might look like vindication of democracy. If the recent past is any indication, however, too many Americans will soon return to apathy and inactivity. Clearly, all is not well in our civic life. Citizens are participating in public affairs too infrequently, too unequally, and in too few venues to develop and sustain a robust democracy. This important new book explores the problem of America's decreasing involvement in its own affairs.D emocracy at Risk reveals the dangers of civic disengagement for the future of representative democracy. The authors, all eminent scholars, undertake three main tasks: documenting recent trends in civic engagement, exploring the influence that the design of political institutions and public policies have had on those trends, and recommending steps that will increase the amount and quality of civic engagement in America. The authors focus their attention on three key areas: the electoral process, including elections and the way people get involved; the impact of location, including demographic shifts and changing development patterns; and the critical role of nonprofit organizations and voluntary associations, including the philanthropy that help keep them going.

This important project, initially sponsored by the American Political Science Association, tests the proposition that social science has useful insights on the state of our democratic life. Most importantly, it charts a course for reinvigorating civic participation in the world's oldest democracy.

The authors: Stephen Macedo (Princeton University), Yvette Alex-Assensoh (Indiana University), Jeffrey M. Berry (Tufts), Michael Brintnall (American Political Science Association), David E. Campbell (Notre Dame), Luis Ricardo Fraga (Stanford), Archon Fung (Harvard), William A. Galston (University of Maryland), Christopher F. Karpowitz (Princeton), Margaret Levi (University of Washington), Meira Levinson (Radcliffe Institute), Keena Lipsitz (California Berkeley), Richard G. Niemi (University of Rochester), Robert D. Putnam (Harvard), Wendy M. Rahn (University of Minnesota), Keith Reeves (Swarthmore), Rob Reich (Stanford), Robert R. Rodgers (Princeton), Todd Swanstrom (Saint Louis University), and Katherine Cramer Walsh (University of Wisconsin).

 

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Índice

Toward a Political Science of Citizenship
1
What Is Civic Engagement?
6
What Dimensions of Civic Engagement Should We Care About?
8
Can Civic Engagement Be Bad?
10
Our Report and the American Political Science Association
16
Roadmap to What Follows
18
Conclusion
19
National Electoral Processes
21
Political Engagement between Elections
90
Community Engagement through Nongovernmental Institutions and Groups
97
What Is to Be Done?
104
Conclusion
114
Assodational Life and the Nonprofit and Philanthropic Sector
117
Associations and Civic Engagement
119
Volunteering and Growth of the Nonprofit Sector
122
How Policy Creates and Regulates Nonprofits
128

Basic Trends
22
Diagnosing Our Civic Malaise
30
Personal Factors
32
Structural Factors
41
Cultural Factors
49
What Is to Be Done?
52
Conclusion
64
The American Metropolis
67
The Promise and Perils of Local Politics
68
Changing Patterns of Metropolitan Life
73
Place Context and Civic Activity
82
Engagement with Electoral Politics
83
Reshaping the Civic Context for Associations
131
What Is to Be Done?
148
Conclusion
152
Assessing Our Political Science of Citizenship
155
Americas Democratic Deficit
156
Our Agenda for Reform
159
Pitfalls of Our Political Science of Citizenship
170
Conclusion
177
NOTES
179
THE AUTHORS
INDEX
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Stephen Macedo is the Laurence S. Rockefeller Professor of Politics and director of the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University.

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