Diminished Democracy: From Membership to Management in American Civic Life
University of Oklahoma Press, 2003 - 366 Seiten
Pundits and social observers have voiced alarm as fewer Americans involve themselves in voluntary groups where people meet regularly. Thousands of nonprofit groups have been launched in recent times, but most are run by professionals who lobby Congress or deliver social services to clients. What will happen to U.S. democracy if participatory groups and social movements wither, while civic involvement becomes one more occupation rather than every citizen's right and duty? In Diminished Democracy, Theda Skocpol shows that this decline in public involvement has not always been the case in this country--and how, by understanding the causes of this change, we might reverse it. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, farmers' groups, women's associations, unions, veterans groups, fraternal orders, and crusades for social change and moral reform spread across the United States. Using information newly collected from antique stores and eBay auctions as well as libraries and archives. Skocpol traces the growth and activities of groups that operated nationally as well as locally and recruited many American adults as members. She shows how democratic government and voluntary associations worked hand-in-hand through much of the nation's past. Then, after the 1960s, civic life suddenly changed. Many new advocacy groups appeared to speak on behalf of people formerly at the margins of social life and politics. But professionally managed agencies displaced membership groups, leaving regular Americans with fewer opportunities to unite across class lines and get involved in community and public affairs.