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January 7, 2008

civic participation/economic participation

(Near Portsmouth, NH) I have a mini-essay over at the Hope Street Group blog. The Hope Street Group promotes broader and fairer participation in the market economy. I share many of its underlying principles and objectives. There is, however, a potential tension between democratic or civic engagement and the Hope Street Group's strategy. That tension involves the role of managerial expertise. Many HSG members are entrepreneurs and business executives who believe that poor management of the public sector frustrates economic opportunity. For example, some of our public school systems are adequately funded but have been managed very wastefully; and the victims are our poorest children. Importing managerial reforms from the private sector could help. Sometimes, it is very "civically engaged" Americans who stand in the way of these reforms: union leaders; school board members and their most active constituents; single-issue pressure groups; and communities that organize (for example) to preserve their own neighborhood's schools even when enrollments have shrunk.

In my mini-essay, I alert the business folks who make up Hope Street Group that not only the market sector is innovative; there's also innovation in civil society. Engaging citizens no longer means public meetings or local elections that are dominated by interest groups. We now have a much better repertoire of techniques and styles of engagement. And we need high-quality citizen participation to improve our institutions.

January 7, 2008 6:16 AM | category: none



What a thoughtful essay. It got me thinking of some of the tensions in working towards global citizenship. Stand by for an essay based on this line of inquiry.

great work!

January 8, 2008 9:20 AM | Comments (1) | posted by jgolds01

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