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Democracy at Risk

How Political Choices Undermine Citizen Participation, and What We Can Do About It

Democracy at Risk by Stephen Macedo
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All is not well in American civic life. Citizen participation is too infrequent, too inconsistent, too unequal, and too ill informed. Democracy at Risk not only reveals the dangers of civic disengagement, but also diagnoses the causes and suggests that there may be cures.

This important book explores the problem of Americans’ decreasing involvement in their own public affairs. It argues that we should not simply blame citizens for this sorry state. Much of the responsibility lies with our ill-designed political system, which tends to dampen involvement, sharpen participatory disparities between groups, and discourage serious attention to political campaigns and policy discussion.

In Democracy at Risk, a team of leading political scientists performs three essential tasks:

  • They document recent trends in civic engagement.
  • They show how these trends have been shaped by the design of political institutions and public policies.
  • They provide recommendations on how to improve the quality, amount, and distribution of civic engagement.
  • Democracy at Risk focuses on three key factors influencing public participation: the electoral process, including political campaigns and subsequent elections; the American metropolis, including demographic changes and evolving development patterns; and the critical role of nonprofit organizations, voluntary associations, and the philanthropy that helps keep them growing.

    Undertaken with the support of the American Political Science Association, the book tests the proposition that scholarship can provide useful insights on the state of our democratic life. It charts a course for reinvigorating civic participation in the world’s most powerful democracy.

    The authors: Stephen Macedo (Princeton University), Yvette Alex-Assensoh (Indiana University), Jeffrey M. Berry (Tufts), Michael Brintnall (American Political Science Association), David E. Campbell (Notre Dame), Luis Ricardo Fraga (Stanford), Archon Fung (Harvard), William A. Galston (University of Maryland), Christopher F. Karpowitz (Princeton), Margaret Levi (University of Washington), Meira Levinson (Boston Public Schools), Keena Lipsitz (Queens College—City University of New York), Wendy M. Rahn (University of Minnesota), Rob Reich (Stanford), Robert R. Rodgers (Princeton), Todd Swanstrom (Saint Louis University), and Katherine Cramer Walsh (University of Wisconsin—Madison).

    Brookings Institution Press; Read online
    Title: Democracy at Risk
    Author: Stephen Macedo

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