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Using a case study of environmental debates about air pollution in Pittsburgh during the late 1960s and early 1970s, James Longhurst examines larger trends in citizen activism outside party politics, linking those trends with the rights revolution of the late twentieth century. He draws upon journalistic accounts, archival documents, legal records, and interviews to explore the actions and arguments of GASP (Group Against Smog and Pollution). This group of environmental activists gained access to political power through claims to citizenship and scientific expertise, supported by the organizational skills, social capital, and maternal rhetoric of middle-class women. Once they gained entry to a newly confrontational policy process, the group engaged in furious public debates over implementation, enforcement, and employment, all amid the decline of Pittsburgh's industrial economy. The grassroots actions of GASP, and many other groups like it across the nation, show that new developments in policy-making, concepts of citizenship, and the long-standing tradition of middle-class women's civic activism did more to drive the creation of the modern environmental movement than did changes in environmental philosophy.
Reconnecting Farm, Food, and Community
While the American agricultural and food systems follow a decades-old path of industrialization and globalization, a counter trend has appeared toward localizing some agricultural and food production. Thomas A. Lyson, a scholar-practitioner in the field of community-based food systems, calls this rebirth of locally based agriculture and food production civic agriculture because these activities are tightly linked to a community's social and economic development. Civic agriculture embraces innovative ways to produce, process, and distribute food, and it represents a sustainable alternative to the socially, economically, and environmentally destructive practices associated with conventional large-scale agriculture. Farmers' markets, community gardens, and community-supported agriculture are all forms of civic agriculture.
Lyson describes how, in the course of a hundred years, a small-scale, diversified system of farming became an industrialized system of production and also how this industrialized system has gone global. He argues that farming in the United States was modernized by employing the same techniques and strategies that transformed the manufacturing sector from a system of craft production to one of mass production. Viewing agriculture as just another industrial sector led to transformations in both the production and the processing of food. As small farmers and food processors were forced to expand, merge with larger operations, or go out of business, they became increasingly disconnected from the surrounding communities. Lyson enumerates the shortcomings of the current agriculture and food systems as they relate to social, economic, and environmental sustainability. He then introduces the concept of community problem solving and offers empirical evidence and concrete examples to show that a re-localization of the food production system is underway.
Among the greatest challenges facing humanity in the twenty-first century is that of sustaining a healthy civil society, which depends upon managing the tension between individual and collective interests. Bruce R. Sievers explores this issue by investigating ways to balance the public and private sides of modern life in a manner that allows realization of the ideal of individual freedom and, at the same time, makes possible the effective pursuit of the common good. He traces the development of civil society from the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic and the eighteenth-century Scottish Enlightenment, analyzes its legacy for modern political life, and explores how historical trends in the formation of civil society and philanthropy aid or impede our achievement of public goods in the modern era.
A “civil society” anthology for experts and students alike. Virginia Hodgkinson and Michael Foley have assembled a definitive collection of 24 readings from the writings of thinkers who have shaped the civil society tradition in Western political thought through the ages. Their clear, intelligent introduction establishes a framework for understanding the complex and perennial debate over conditions of citizenship and the character of the good society. The text moves from the origins of the debate, a consideration of Aristotle’s vision of political order, the polis, through the “civic republicanism” of Machiavelli and his English and American followers. It also discusses Hobbes’s and Montesquieu’s conceptions of natural law and the social contract, Immanuel Kant and Adam Ferguson and the emergence of the modern notion of civil society in the late 18th century, and the thoughts and theories of Hegel, Marx, and Gramsci. Contemporary discussion of civil society in the US started with Berger, Newhaus, and others who addressed the role of intermediary institutions and the political process. In the 1980s, especially as the Cold War ended, writing on civil society exploded. The anthology tracks the key works that have influenced public dialogue in this era. Chapters by Walzer, Barber, Putnam, Almond and Verba, Shils, and others describe the role of association in civil society and its role in democratic governance. As the concept of “civil society” grows ever more prominent in academic and public considerations of politics and political organization, citizen participation, political alienation, voluntary organizations, privatization, government deregulation, and “faith-based” charities, Civil Society: A Reader is the essential historical and theoretical text.
A New Approach to Leadership Education in Colleges and Universities
The essays in this volume address the idea of leadership education through civic engagement. They delineate a new approach to leadership education reflecting important cultural trends driven by technology, globalization, and demographic shifts; look at some of the best leadership education programs nationwide; and offer "next steps" on how to transform higher education more broadly.
The Democratic Foundations of Civil Society
From Neighborhood to Nation takes on a key issue in the debate over expanding the civic culture, namely how neighborhood-based systems of local participation and governance can contribute to building a civil society that has meaning and positive impact beyond the local community. Advocates have long called for greater reliance on local participatory processes for improving the quality of civil society and governance, while critics maintain that neighborhood-based mechanisms promote parochialism and the politics of exclusion.
Intensive research in four urban neighborhoods -- Birmingham AL, Dayton OH, Portland OR, and St. Paul MN -- enables Ken Thomson to provide the first meaningful and quantified response to these abstract civic culture questions. He develops scales to measure the extent of neighborhood organization and effectiveness in the political process, thereby focusing the debate on three essential components: deliberations and decisions of the core grassroots groups, their outreach to all citizens in their area, and their relationship to the political process.
Engaged Citizens or Political Dropouts
An investigation of political disengagement among young people in North America and Europe Despite rising levels of education and mounting calls for increased democratic participation, recent years have seen a significant decline in voter turnout in many countries and the erosion of the sense of civic duty that brought earlier generations to the polls. Henry Milner looks at the United States, Canada, Britain, Scandinavia, and the European Union to probe the decline of youth voting and attentiveness to politics, drawing lessons from observations of institutions, which could break down the wall between political life and “real” life that underlies political abstention among the Internet generation. Finding civic education the key to instilling habits of attentiveness to public affairs, especially among potential political dropouts, Milner sets out a series of ways to bring the issues—and the political parties’ stance on them—to the classroom, including visits, simulations, and innovative use of media, old and new.
A Global Comparison
Social enterprise--the use of market-based, civil society approaches to address social issues--has been a growing phenomenon for over twenty years. Gathering essays by researchers and practitioners from around the globe, this volume examines, from a local perspective, the diverse ways in which social enterprise has emerged in different regions. Each chapter examines the conceptualization, history, legal and political frameworks, supporting institutions, and latest developments and challenges for social enterprise in a given region or country. In the final chapter, Janelle A. Kerlin presents a comparative analysis of the various models and contexts for social enterprise, showing how particular strengths in each environment lead to different enterprise initiative models.
How Restraints on Nonprofits Undermine Their Potential
Uncharitable goes where no other book on the nonprofit sector has dared to tread. Where other texts suggest ways to optimize performance inside the existing paradigm, Uncharitable suggests that the paradigm itself is the problem and calls into question our fundamental canons about charity. Author Dan Pallotta argues that society's nonprofit ethic acts as a strict regulatory mechanism on the natural economic law. It creates an economic apartheid that denies the nonprofit sector critical tools and permissions that the for-profit sector is allowed to use without restraint (e.g., no risk-reward incentives, no profit, counterproductive limits on compensation, and moral objections to the use of donated dollars for anything other than program expenditures).
These double-standards place the nonprofit sector at extreme disadvantage to the for profit sector on every level. While the for profit sector is permitted to use all the tools of capitalism to advance the sale of consumer goods, the nonprofit sector is prohibited from using any of them to fight hunger or disease. Capitalism is blamed for creating the inequities in our society, but charity is prohibited from using the tools of capitalism to rectify them.
Ironically, this is all done in the name of charity, but it is a charity whose principal benefit flows to the for-profit sector and one that denies the nonprofit sector the tools and incentives that have built virtually everything of value in society. The very ethic we have cherished as the hallmark of our compassion is in fact what undermines it.
This irrational system, Pallotta explains, has its roots in 400-year-old Puritan ethics that banished self-interest from the realm of charity. The ideology is policed today by watchdog agencies and the use of "efficiency" measures, which Pallotta argues are flawed, unjust, and should be abandoned. By declaring our independence from these obsolete ideas, Pallotta theorizes, we can dramatically accelerate progress on the most urgent social issues of our time. Pallotta has written an important, provocative, timely, and accessible book--a manifesto about equal economic rights for charity. Its greatest contribution may be to awaken society to the fact that they were so unequal in the first place.