Civil Society, Realized: Equipping the Mass Public to Express Choice and Negotiate Power
We examine the ways in which change in civil society has contributed to the erosion of democracy in the United States. Democracy demands that people commit to pluralistic self-determination, which means that people must be willing to seek power and also share it. We argue that civil society plays two important roles in sustaining people’s willingness to do both: first, civil society cultivates a capacity for expressing choice; and second, it teaches capacities and provides opportunities for people to negotiate power. We show that in recent decades, civil society’s emphasis has moved more toward expressing choice and away from the creation of venues for negotiating power. We conclude with recommendations for researchers, civil society leaders, funders, and policy-makers who are interested in committing to forms of civil society that take power seriously.
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