Everyday Politics: Reconnecting Citizens and Public Life

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University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004 - Political Science - 239 pages

Increasingly a spectator sport, electoral politics have become bitterly polarized by professional consultants and lobbyists and have been boiled down to the distributive mantra of "who gets what." In Everyday Politics, Harry Boyte transcends partisan politics to offer an alternative. He demonstrates how community-rooted activities reconnect citizens to engaged, responsible public life, and not just on election day but throughout the year. Boyte demonstrates that this type of activism has a rich history and strong philosophical foundation. It rests on the stubborn faith that the talents and insights of ordinary citizens--from nursery school to nursing home--are crucial elements in public life.

Drawing on concrete examples of successful public work projects accomplished by diverse groups of people across the nation, Boyte demonstrates how citizens can master essential political skills, such as understanding issues in public terms, mapping complex issues of institutional power to create alliances, raising funds, communicating, and negotiating across lines of difference. He describes how these skills can be used to address the larger challenges of our time, thereby advancing a renewed vision of democratic society and freedom in the twenty-first century.

 

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Contents

The Stirrings of a New Politics
1
Populisms
17
The Growth of Everyday Politics
36
Citizenship as Public Work
57
Citizen Education as a Craft Not a Program
77
The Jane Addams School for Democracy
95
Professions as Public Work
113
Architects of Democracy
134
Spreading Everyday Politics
160
Freedom
183
Notes
195
Index
225
Acknowledgments
237
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About the author (2004)

Harry C. Boyte is founder and codirector of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at the University of Minnesota and Senior Fellow at the Humphrey Institute. He is the author of many books, including The Backyard Revolution and, with Sara Evans, Free Spaces.

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