Understanding democracy, learning to be democratic and to value democracy are critical competencies to be developed by all Americans. In the present debate about what knowledge is of most worth in the public school, these civic competencies are seen as second in importance only to the development of critical thinking. They are typically, however, honored more in commencement rhetoric than in school programs or practices; their actualization falls far short of their ascribed importance. The authors argue that critical opportunities for democratic development occur in the day-to-day life of the schools. It follows that all grade levels should participate in the creation of the constitution of the school and classrooms, the justice structure of the school (its disciplinary code, norms, and adjudication), the policy-making of the school, and in the understanding of the school as a social laboratory. The authors demonstrate the effectiveness of such a program by reporting some two decades of applied research on democratic schools which have realized some of these outcomes.
Political participation in America-supposedly the world's strongest democracy-is startlingly low, and many of the civil rights and economic equity initiatives that were instituted in the 1960s and '70s have been abandoned, as significant proportions of the populace seem to believe that the civil rights battle has been won. However, rates of collective engagement, like community activism, are surprisingly high. In Resisting Citizenship, renowned feminist political scientist Martha Ackelsberg argues that community activism may hold important clues to reviving democracy in this time of growing bureaucratization and inequality.
This book brings together many of Ackelsberg's writings over the past 25 years, combining her own field work and interviews with cutting edge research and theory on democracy and activism. She explores these efforts in order to draw lessons-and attempt to incorporate knowledge-about current notions of democracy from those who engage in non-traditional participation, those who have, in many respects, been relegated to the margins of political life in the United States.
The book investigates the intersection of citizenship, civil society, and development in today's global world. The multi-disciplinary collection considers the notion of citizenship in connection with the neoliberal development agendas, participation, security discourses and legal environments. The contributions analyse the development-citizenship nexus grounded in empirical work in African, Latin American, European and global contexts. The book opens exciting avenues to reflect on the notion of citizenship and explores the following pertinent questions: Does citizenship matter for development research? Do international development policy and practice promote certain normative registers for how people should make sense of their social relations and, in particular, how they relate to public authorities? What are their responses? Contributors from various academic backgrounds, such as anthropology, law, and political science, affirm the importance of citizenship for the study of contemporary development processes. Chapters provide empirical analysis of the processes of water privatization in Ghana, the promulgation of new 'NGO Law' in Ethiopia, environmental politics in former Yugoslavia, and the global interconnections between the Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street movement. The book is relevant for students and scholars of political science and development studies as well as development practitioners globally.
This book was published as a special issue of the Journal of Civil Society.
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