Democracy at Risk: How Political Choices Undermine Citizen Participation and What We Can Do about It / Edition 1

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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"An Outstanding Academic Title" — CHOICE, 1/1/2006

"An important resource for teaching and for guiding further research on citizen participation. It is clearly written and accessible to people outside as well as within the academy. An impressive collaboration of which political scientists can be proud, this book should be of interest to all who care about the state of citizenship and what may be done to improve it." —Theda Skocpol, Harvard University

"This is a 'must read' book for those interested in democracy and American politics. It makes the reader ponder what democracy is about, how we are doing, and what the prospects are for the future....This book is an important contribution to the contemporary debate on American democracy." —Russell Dalton, University of California, Irvine, Democracy & Society

"These scholars have made a valuable contribution to our understanding and potentially have instigated an ongoing and deliberative discussion on this important topic. Political scientists and the general public will find the report interesting and informative. Democracy at Risk would be a useful secondary textbook for classes in American politics." —James L. Danielson, Minnesota State University Moorhead, Perspectives on Political Science, 9/1/2006

"this book presents an excellent sketch not only of contemporary American political life, but of the debates about engagement, civic vitality and individual freedom which cut across a range of disciplines, and as such it is an important read for anyone interested in strengthening democracy and increasing citizen engagement." — Political Studies Review, 1/1/2007

"loaded with advice for improving civic participation" —Karl Kurtz, State Legislatures, 2/1/2007

"DEMOCRACY AT RISK will undoubtedly be an important milestone in the intellectual development of research and thinking about civic engagement. It is coherent, well written, and interesting, and would be ideal for course adoptions." —Henry Brady, University of California--Berkeley

"This important and exciting manifesto... is brilliantly analytical but also eloquent and practical in proposing reforms to improve our practice of politics. At a time when our country is busily selling the democratic idea to the rest of the world, we need to tend our own civic life. Here's hoping that DEMOCRACY AT RISK inspires the national and grassroots debate we badly need." —E.J. Dionne Jr., syndicated columnist and author of WHY AMERICANS HATE POLITICS

Theda Skocpol
"DEMOCRACY AT RISK is an important resource for teaching and for guiding further research on citizen participation. It is clearly written and accessible to people outside as well as within the academy. An impressive collaboration of which political scientists can be proud, this book should be of interest to all who care about the state of citizenship, and what may be done to improve it."
— Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology, and Director of the Center for American Political Studies, Harvard University
Henry Brady
"DEMOCRACY AT RISK will undoubtedly be an important milestone in the intellectual development of research and thinking about civic engagement. It is coherent, well written, and interesting, and would be ideal for course adoption."
—University of California-Berkeley
E. J. Dionne
"Historically, American political science did not content itself with describing our politics through magnificent charts and the ingenious use of statistics. It has a moral commitment to strengthening our democracy and expanding political participation. This important and exciting manifesto is true to both callings. It is brilliantly analytical but also eloquent and practical in proposing reforms to improve our practice of politics. At a time when our country is busily selling the democratic idea to the rest of the world, we need to tend our own civic life. Here's hoping that DEMOCRACY AT RISK inspires the national and grassroots debate we badly need."
—syndicated columnist and author of WHY AMERICANS HATE POLITICS
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815754053
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press
  • Publication date: 8/30/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 188
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

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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