Democracy as a Way of Life in America : A History book cover
1st Edition

Democracy as a Way of Life in America
A History

ISBN 9780415836128
Published September 25, 2013 by Routledge
240 Pages

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Book Description

The United States is a nation whose identity is defined by the idea of democracy. Yet democracy in the U.S. is often taken for granted, narrowly understood, and rarely critically examined. In Democracy as a Way of Life in America, Schneirov and Fernandez show that, much more than a static legacy from the past, democracy is a living process that informs all aspects of American life.

The authors trace the story of American democracy from the revolution to the present, showing how democracy has changed over time, and the challenges it has faced. They examine themes including individualism, foreign policy, the economy, and the environment, and reveal how democracy has been deeply involved in these throughout the country’s history.

Democracy as a Way of Life in America demonstrates that democracy is not simply a set of institutions or practices such as the right to vote or competing political parties, but a complex, multi-dimensional phenomenon, whose animating spirit can be found in every part of American culture and society. This vital and engaging narrative should be read by students of history, political science, and anyone who wants to understand the nature of American democracy.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Democracy as a Way of Life 1. The Three Waves of American Democracy 2. Democracy in Culture: American Individualisms 3. American Democracy in the Economy and Workplace 4. American Democracy and US Foreign Policy 5. The Neoliberal Era: Post-Industrial Society in a New Gilded Age 6. The Democratic Challenge Epilog: The Environment--Democracy's Fourth Wave Documents Bibliography

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Richard Schneirov is Professor of History at Indiana State University. He is the author of many books, including Chicago in the Age of Capital: Class, Politics, and Democracy during the Civil War and Reconstruction with John B. Jentz.

Gaston A. Fernandez is Professor of Political Science at Indiana State University.


"Strongly challenging the notion that democracy is just an arrangement for selecting a governing elite, Schneirov and Fernandez look for democratic ideas and practices in corporations and families, in social movements and cultural productions, in education and childrearing. Their democratic America is a place of continual controversy over everything from corporate power to disco; their cast of characters ranges from the marginalized to the spectacularly successful, from those in power to the social movements that challenged them. As they turn their gaze to the early twenty-first century, they write of the inequalities of the Second Gilded Age and the movements for democratic renewal that confront them."

– John Markoff, author of Waves of Democracy: Social Movements and Political Change