Across the world, democracies are suffering from a disconnect between the people and political elites. In communities where jobs and industry are scarce, many feel the government is incapable of understanding their needs or addressing their problems. The resulting frustration has fueled the success of destabilizing demagogues. To reverse this pattern and restore responsible government, we need to reinvigorate democracy at the local level. But what does that mean? Drawing on examples of successful community building in cities large and small, from a shrinking village in rural Austria to a neglected section of San Diego, Reconstructing Democracy makes a powerful case for re-engaging citizens. It highlights innovative grassroots projects and shows how local activists can form alliances and discover their own power to solve problems.
"This is an urgent manifesto for the reconstruction of democratic belonging in our troubled times. In their theorizing of democracy as a resonant dynamic of local engagements, civic practices, and forms of collective agency, Charles Taylor, Patrizia Nanz, and Madeleine Beaubien Taylor offer robust philosophical and empirical solutions to the deep need for reestablishing a sense of trust in citizen participation and solidarity."--Davide Panagia, author of The Political Life of Sensation
"Reconstructing Democracy at first glance seems modest in its scope and aim, but it is actually quite ambitious. Taylor, Nanz, and Taylor find compelling examples of how engagement by citizens with other citizens at the most basic level of discussion and consultation can reshape communities, and in reshaping communities, reform the public sphere. The various citizen councils, grassroots organizers, and NGOs they highlight are those that don't simply listen to citizens but encourage their active participation. The effect is to open up a fresh range of ideas for enabling ordinary citizens to shape the priorities of the places where they live."--Thomas Dumm, author of Home in America