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Do-It-Yourself Democracy: The Rise of the Public Engagement Industry (Hardback)
  • Do-It-Yourself Democracy: The Rise of the Public Engagement Industry (Hardback)
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Do-It-Yourself Democracy: The Rise of the Public Engagement Industry (Hardback)

(author)
£23.99
Hardback 304 Pages / Published: 15/01/2015
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Citizen participation has undergone a radical shift since anxieties about "bowling alone" seized the nation in the 1990s. Many pundits and observers have cheered America's twenty-first century civic renaissance-an explosion of participatory innovations in public life. Invitations to "have your say!" and "join the discussion!" have proliferated. But has the widespread enthusiasm for maximizing citizen democracy led to real change? In Do-It-Yourself Democracy, sociologist Caroline W. Lee examines how participatory innovations have reshaped American civic life over the past two decades. Lee looks at the public engagement industry that emerged to serve government, corporate, and nonprofit clients seeking to gain a handle on the increasingly noisy demands of their constituents and stakeholders. The beneficiaries of new forms of democratic empowerment are not only humble citizens, but also the engagement experts who host the forums. Does it matter if the folks deepening democracy are making money at it? How do they make sense of the contradictions inherent in their roles? In investigating public engagement practitioners' everyday anxieties and larger worldviews, we see reflected the strange meaning of power in contemporary institutions. New technologies and deliberative practices have democratized the ways in which organizations operate, but Lee argues that they have also been marketed and sold as tools to facilitate cost-cutting, profitability, and other management goals - and that public deliberation has burdened everyday people with new responsibilities without delivering on its promises of empowerment.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199987269
Number of pages: 304
Weight: 524 g
Dimensions: 236 x 162 x 25 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
At a time when paralysis plagues professional politics, this fascinating book takes us deep into a parallel universe. Here, under the watchful eyes of professional deliberation managers, citizens negotiate with one another to make the hard choices their elected representatives so often duck. This book reminds us that when governments fail, citizens will seek democracy elsewhere - and that for all the rhetoric of do-it-yourself empowerment, there's no guarantee they'll find it. A mesmerizing and ultimately frightening read. * Fred Turner, author of The Democratic Surround *
I have been involved for decades in the field that Caroline Lee insightfully describes and criticizes in this remarkable book. Although I recognize myself in some of its satirical passages, I consider it essential reading for anyone who cares about deliberative democracy and also community service, youth engagement, and other civic practices. We cannot move forward without addressing the shortcomings Lee explores. * Peter Levine, Tufts University *
In Do-It-Yourself Democracy, Caroline Lee powerfully demonstrates the often unexpected consequences of deliberative decision making practices. This rich and complex analysis, forcefully argued and elegantly presented, makes important contributions to our understanding of the development of new forms of political engagement as well as to fundamental debates over the democratic character of the modern American state. By illuminating how participatory practices function simultaneously as methods for the containment of dissent and the production of consent, Caroline Lee provides a cautionary tale for the present moment. * Elisabeth S. Clemens, University of Chicago *
A fresh and fascinating look at participatory democracy today. As Caroline Lee demonstrates, we've come a long way from the 1960s. Now, the Obama administration supports the efforts, civic leaders endorse them, and corporations underwrite them. Lee gets to the heart of the matter by focusing on the wizards behind the democratic curtain - the professionals who organize participatory events. Do-It-Yourself Democracy is, in turn, idealistic, moving, personal, deeply researched, elegantly written, skeptical, wise, and highly recommended. * James A. Morone, author of The Devils We Know *

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