Citizen Competence and Democratic Institutions

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Bringing together new work from many of the leading experts on democratic citizenship, this volume presents both normative argument and empirical analysis to help deepen our understanding of the various competences that citizens require if there is to be a flourishing democratic political order in our present age.

The essays explore the following themes: (1) the essential components of democratic citizenship and how these can be fostered; (2) the state of citizen competence in ...

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Overview

Bringing together new work from many of the leading experts on democratic citizenship, this volume presents both normative argument and empirical analysis to help deepen our understanding of the various competences that citizens require if there is to be a flourishing democratic political order in our present age.

The essays explore the following themes: (1) the essential components of democratic citizenship and how these can be fostered; (2) the state of citizen competence in various democratic regimes; (3) civil society as a crucial site for the exercise and development of democratic citizenship; (4) new findings that show democratic citizens to have more political information and behave more rationally than hitherto supposed; and (5) the theory and practice of new institutional forms for democratic deliberation and democratic control.

The final section of the book explores new and revitalized forms of democratic participation as well as the kind of participation that is likely to foster a wide variety of citizen competences. The discussion runs from what we know and can expect from town meetings, to the value of public work in fostering a democratic citizenry, to entirely new forms for expressing citizen judgment.

The Contributors are Benjamin Barber, Harry C. Boyte, Frank M. Bryan, Michael A. Dimock, Stephen L. Elkin, James S. Fishkin, Norman Frohlich, John Gaventa, Elizabeth Gerber, Alan Kay, Robert E. Lane, Arthur Lupia, Jane Mansbridge, Joe A. Oppenheimer, Benjamin Page, Samuel Popkin, Nancy Rosenblum, Robert Shapiro, Karol Edward Soltan, Marion Smiley, and David Steiner.

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Editorial Reviews

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Developed from a February 1995 conference of the Committee of the Political Economy of the Good Society. The 16 essays address a number of themes in current democratic theory and practice. Among them are an increased interest in essential components of democratic citizenship, increasing worry about the state of citizenship in democratic regimes, civil society as a site for exercising citizenship, evidence that citizens are more informed and rational then they are generally credited, and new institutional forms for democratic deliberation and control. Paper edition (unseen) $19.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknew.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Stephen L. Elkin and Karol Edward Soltan both teach in the Department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland. They co-edited the two PEGS volumes preceding this one, The New Constitutionalism (1993) and The Constitution of Good Societies (Penn State, 1996).

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Preface
Introduction: Civic Competence, Democracy, and the Good Society 1
Pt. 1 What Is Civic Competence?
1 Civic Competence, Attractiveness, and Maturity 17
2 The Discourse of Civility 39
3 Citizen Knowledge, Citizen Competence, and Democracy Building 49
4 Navigating Pluralism: The Democracy of Everyday Life and Where It Is Learned 67
Pt. 2 The State of Civic Competence
5 The Rational Public and Beyond 93
6 Political Knowledge and Citizen Competence 117
7 Voter Competence in Direct Legislation Elections 147
8 Values, Policies, and Citizen Competence: An Experimental Perspective 161
Pt. 3 Strengthening Citizen Competence
9 Direct Democracy and Civic Competence: The Case of Town Meeting 195
10 Searching for Educational Coherence in a Democratic State 225
11 Building the Commonwealth: Citizenship as Public Work 259
12 Toward Deliberative Democracy: Experimenting with an Ideal 279
13 On the Idea That Participation Makes Better Citizens 291
Pt. 4 Conclusion
14 The Joyless Polity: Contributions of Democratic Processes to Ill-Being 329
15 Democratic Citizenship: A Question of Competence? 371
16 Citizen Competence and the Design of Democratic Institutions 385
Index 405
List of Contributors 423
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