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Socialization to Civil Society
A Life History Study of Community Leaders
Socialization to Civil Society
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Peter Robert Sawyer - Author
Price: $68.50 
Hardcover - 212 pages
Release Date: November 2004
ISBN10: 0-7914-6185-8
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-6185-3

Price: $31.95 
Paperback - 212 pages
Release Date: November 2004
ISBN10: 0-7914-6186-6
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-6186-0

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2005 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title Award

Using a life history approach, looks at what influences citizens to participate in the voluntary associations that comprise and promote civil society.

While many political theorists argue that the problems and failures of American democracy are rooted in the decline of civil society, few examine how American institutions socialize citizens to participate in the voluntary associations that comprise civil society. Peter Robert Sawyer offers a life history approach to explore citizen involvement within one community in upstate New York. Sawyer's informants model enlightened self-interest and participate actively in their community's voluntary associations. Their life histories, revealed in rich narrative, tell us how they think about political life and how various agents of socialization—family, peers, school, church, community, media, workplace, and voluntary associations themselves—influence their commitment. The results of this study provide some interesting revelations about how to construct government, corporate, education, and family institutions to encourage civic participation and to maintain the overall health of civil society.

“Sawyer masterfully presents his findings from engaging, interesting, and captivating in-depth interviews with model citizens who participate in today’s civil society. The many opinions and perspectives will force readers to rethink what may first appear as a boring and unimportant subject … Perhaps the author is presenting glimpses and examples of individuals who in part represent the fading ‘glue’ holding together contemporary society.” — CHOICE

"Socialization to Civil Society is timely and addresses an important line of inquiry in the social sciences. The author is precisely correct in his assessment of the linkages between the problem-solving capacity of communities and civil society." — Thomas A. Lyson, coeditor of Under the Blade: The Conversion of Agricultural Landscapes

Peter Robert Sawyer is Department Chair of History, Philosophy, and Social Sciences at Hudson Valley Community College.

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Table of Contents


1: Strengthening Civil Society

2: Civil Society

Importance of Civil Society to Democracy
History of Civil Society in America
The Creation of Meaning and Civil Society

3: Engaging Citizens in Civil Society

Explaining Involvement in Civil Society
Political Socialization

4: Researching Engaged Citizens in Civil Society

Community Site Selection
Research Approach
Subject Selection
Interview Schedule
Analyses of Interviews
Design Statement

5: Citizen Models for Civil Society

Virtues and Norms
Concepts and Beliefs Concerning Public Life
Motivations to Involvement in Civil Society

6: Socialization to Civil Society

Childhood Socialization to Civil Society
Adult Socialization to Civil Society

7: Discussion and Conclusions

Focus on Micro-Sociology and Community Politics
Facilitating the Health of Civil Society


Appendix A: Random Phone Interview Guide
Appendix B: Organizational Representative Interview Guide
Appendix C: Identified Subjects Interview Guide
Appendix D: Subject Biographies
Appendix E: Written Consent Form




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