Democracy in Small Town America

March, 2007

What is the state of democracy at the turn of the 21st century? Seven scholars, including PSU’s Thaddeus Guldbrandsen, director of the Center for Rural Partnerships and research assistant professor of anthropology, lived for a year in five North Carolina communities, attending public meetings of all sorts and conducting informal and formal interviews with residents in an attempt to answer this question. The fruits of their work appear in Local Democracy Under Siege: Activism, Public Interests, and Private Politics, a collaborative ethnography that gives readers insight into how diverse members of a community think about and experience politics beyond merely voting.

The book, published in March by NYU Press, illustrates how the social and economic changes of the last three decades have made some new routes to active democratic participation possible while making others more difficult. It also suggests possible reasons for the current state of U.S. democracy and presents ideas on how to ensure more meaningful participation by a greater range of people.—Barbra Alan

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