The Good Citizen: A History of American Civic Life

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Harvard University Press, 1999 - History - 390 pages

In 1996, less than half of all eligible voters bothered to vote. Fewer citizens each year follow government and public affairs regularly. Is popular sovereignty a failure? Not necessarily, argues Michael Schudson in this provocative history of citizenship in America. Schudson sees American politics as evolving from a "politics of assent" in colonial times and the eighteenth century, in which voting generally reaffirmed the social hierarchy of the community; to a "politics of affiliation" in the nineteenth century, in which party loyalty was paramount for the good citizen. Progressive reforms around the turn of the century reduced the power of parties and increased the role of education, making way for the "informed citizen," which remains the ideal in American civic life. Today a fourth model, "the rights-bearing citizen," supplements the "informed citizen" model and makes the courthouse as well as the voting booth a channel for citizenship.

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THE GOOD CITIZEN: A History of American Civic Life

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An intelligent, thorough synthesis of how the rights and responsibilities of American citizenship have evolved from colonial times to the present. Schudson (Sociology/Univ.. Of Calif., San Diego) sets ... Read full review

The good citizen: a history of American civic life

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Schudson (Watergate in American Memory, LJ 6/1/92), who has written a number of books on print and television media and journalism, has put together a most engaging work on the history of citizenship ... Read full review


Election Day
The Democratic Transition

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About the author (1999)

Michael Schudson is Professor of Communication and Sociology at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of several books, including Advertising: The Uneasy Persuasion and Watergate in American Memory.

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