9780674356405 / 0674356403

The Good Citizen: A History of American Civic Life


Publisher:Harvard University Press



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About the book:

"What are the characteristics and practices that mark a good citizen in the United States?" asks author Michael Schudson, a professor at the University of California at San Diego. He's not entirely sure--this is not a book of ready conclusions--but he performs a helpful service in describing the evolution of voting as both an idea and practice in American history. During the colonial period, for example, white male property owners (nobody else had the vote) casually reaffirmed a strict social hierarchy. In the 19th century, political parties dominated public life and energized local communities. In the 20th century, the Progressive Era notion of "informed voters" took root and essentially privatized citizenship. Schudson generally likes the way in which American citizenship has evolved, especially toward more openness, but he's decidedly ambivalent about where it might be headed--a regime of rights and entitlements in which the personal is inevitably political. --John J. Miller

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