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Democracy in Action  

Shradha [Likes: 1] [Hates: 1]
Democracy in Action – critical recoiftelnThe first two chapters of Democracy in Action provide an outline of the themes to be examined in greater detail throughout the book. The book examines community action as a means to improve the urban environment and community quality of life. However, the book also examines the ways in which community action is a means for urban residents to participate in democratic society.Smock states that the experience of collective action “transformed residents’ perception of what it means to live in a democratic society” (3). This transformation occurs in contrast to the prevailing trend of the “erosion of our sense of civic responsibility [that has] threatened the very fabric of our society” (4). However, though community organizing is a mechanism “through which ordinary people – especially society’s most disenfranchised members – can impact the social and economic conditions affecting their lives” (5), through the descriptions of the case studies to be examined throughout the book an emerging trend seems to be present, in which community organizations tend to remain dominated by the white middle-class. Though this is not the case for all of the case studies presented, many of the case studies of community organizations cite a disproportionate number of middle-class residents making up the organizations in comparison to the make up of the neighborhoods and communities themselves.This is particularly evident in the case studies discussing the Civic Model for organizing, for which the membership of the primary case study CAN, “is primarily white and middle class” (23). This skewed membership is also found in the secondary case study for the civic model, CAPS, which also has a disproportionate number of middle-class property owners compared to the overall demographics of the neighborhood” (23). This is most striking when considering that part of the Civic Model’s focus is on mobilizing “the city’s formal social control mechanisms” (21). Through this form of skewed democratic action, there could be the potential for enhancing the already biased position of formal institutions, and counteracting the democratic effects that community organization is suppose to perpetuate.
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