Category Archives: civic theory

Habermas, Ostrom, Gandhi (II)

(Santa Monica, CA) On Monday, I posted an argument that three traditions of theory and practice provide what we need for a civic theory, which is a theory of what we should do. It is different from a political theory that asks what should … Continue reading

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Ostrom, Habermas, and Gandhi are all we need

(Rancho Palos Verdes, CA) Back in 2014, I argued: [Elinor] “Ostrom plus [Jürgen] Habermas is nearly all we need.” I define a good citizen as anyone who seriously asks the question “What should we do?” Citizens face a dizzying variety of hard … Continue reading

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the New Social Movements of the seventies, eighties, and today

(Oxford, OH) By the 1980s, a large literature distinguished the “New Social Movements” from older strands of politics. Jürgen Habermas chose to list the following New Social Movements then active in Germany: “the anti-nuclear and environmental movements,” “the peace movement”; “the … Continue reading

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what is a social movement?

Social movements are at the heart of politics right now. Drawing loosely on work by Charles Tilly, Doug McAdam, Sidney Tarrow, Frencesca Polletta, Jennifer Earl, and others, I would define a social movement using five criteria (listed below). Note that this is a … Continue reading

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Civic Deserts and our present crisis

My colleagues Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg and Felicia Sullivan have published an article in The Conversation that I believe supports an important diagnosis of the 2016 election and our current crisis. Their article is entitled “Study: 60 percent of rural millennials lack … Continue reading

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new project on the socio-emotional impact of civic engagement

(New York City) People can gain satisfaction, empathy, purpose, insight, and a host of other socio-emotional or psycho-social benefits from taking part in civic life. Also, if they demonstrate psychological maturity or even excellence, it can help them to be responsible civic actors. On … Continue reading

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on the Deep State, the administrative state, and the civil service

The last few days have seen several prominent articles about “the Deep State”: by David Remnick in the New Yorker, Marc Ambinder in The Washington Post, Julie Hirschfeld Davis in the New York Times, and Kevin Williamson in The National Review, … Continue reading

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microgenetic, ontogenetic, and sociogenetic civic learning

At a Center for Ethics & Education conference last week in Kansas City, I learned from Larry Nucci about an important taxonomy. In my summary: Microgenetic learning means obtaining particular knowledge, skills, concepts, values, etc. through particular experiences. A student doesn’t know about … Continue reading

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hearing the faint music of democracy

Democracy has many inherent flaws. This is just the start of a comprehensive list: Majority tyranny: the many may oppress the few. Free-riding: it doesn’t pay to be informed or active when you can let others engage instead. Propaganda: it works. … Continue reading

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the question of sacrifice in politics

(Atlanta, en route to Starkville, MS) Sacrifice can be a political act; often politics requires it. Sacrifice would be unnecessary in an ideal society and pointless in a completely static one; but in an unjust society that is subject to … Continue reading

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