Abstract/Details

American pragmatism and democratic faith


2006 2006

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Abstract (summary)

My dissertation is a study of the origins and legacy of participatory democratic thought in America. In June 1962, the Students for a Democratic Society signed the Port Huron Statement, in which they articulated their vision of citizens participating directly in the governance of their country and putting an end to many intractable problems in American life, including racial discrimination, poverty, and the paranoid logic of cold war policy (e.g., brinkmanship). The New Left ideal of participatory democracy captured the imagination of a generation of political activists in the late 1950s and early 1960s but never planted a firm foothold in American political soil. Largely dismissed as an unviable idea in such a large country, it had limited influence on the development of political institutions in the United States and would only receive serious consideration from political theorists. To understand why participatory democracy was so short-lived, I argue that one must trace its intellectual origins to the pragmatists who in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries laid the foundation for this ethos. Thus, I focus on the writings of the early pragmatist philosophers, including Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. Next, I turn to the legacy of participatory democratic thought and examine the work of Sheldon Wolin and Benjamin Barber, two contemporary political theorists who, respectively, represent radical and mainstream versions of this idea. Finally, I argue that once situated within the pragmatist tradition, participatory democratic thought proves not only impracticable but also theoretically untenable. This might compel political scientists to revisit questions about participation, civic education, citizenship, civil society, and representation.

Indexing (details)


Subject
Political science;
American history
Classification
0615: Political science
0337: American history
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Barber, Benjamin; Benjamin Barber; Charles Sanders Peirce; Democratic faith; Dewey, John; James, William; John Dewey; Participatory democracy; Peirce, Charles Sanders; Pragmatism; Sheldon Wolin; William James; Wolin, Sheldon
Title
American pragmatism and democratic faith
Author
Lacey, Robert J.
Number of pages
352
Publication year
2006
Degree date
2006
School code
0118
Source
DAI-A 67/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
ISBN
9780542629822
Advisor
Mileur, Jerome M.
University/institution
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Degree
Ph.D.
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Language
English
Document type
Dissertation/Thesis
Dissertation/thesis number
3212736
ProQuest document ID
305311373
Copyright
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
http://search.proquest.com/docview/305311373
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