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Before the Iowa caucuses, nearly all political analysts believed that the Obama campaign strategy of targeting young Americans was doomed to failure. His election win proved the detractors wrong.
In a new epilogue of The Good Citizen, focusing on the 2008 presidential election, Russell Dalton answers questions that are sure to resonate with your readers and provide great fodder for lively discussion:
ABOUT THE GOOD CITIZEN
There has been a growing chorus of political analysts with doomsday predictions of an American public that is uncivil, disengaged, and alienated. And it s only getting worse with a younger generation of Americans who do not see the value in voting.
The good news is that the bad news is wrong.
Russell Dalton uses a new set of national public opinion surveys to show how Americans are changing their views on what good citizenship means. It s not about recreating the halcyon politics of a generation ago, but recognition that new patterns of citizenship call for new processes and new institutions that reflect the values of the contemporary American public. Trends in participation, tolerance, and policy priorities reflect a younger generation that is more engaged, more tolerant, and more supportive of social justice. The Good Citizen shows how a younger generation is creating new norms of citizenship that are leading to a renaissance of democratic participation. An important comparative chapter in the book showcases cross-national comparisons that further demonstrate the vitality of American democracy.
This book will reshape how we think about the American public, American youth, and the prospects for contemporary democracy.
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Russell Dalton is research professor at the Center for the Study of Democracy, University of California, Irvine. His research focuses on the changing nature of citizen politics in contemporary democracies. He has received a Fulbright Research Fellowship, a German Marshall Fund Fellowship, Barbra Streisand Center Fellowship and POSCO Research Fellowship. He has recently served on the boards of the American National Election Study, the British Election Study and the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems. Among his recent authored or edited books are The Civic Culture Transformed (2014), Citizens, Context and Choice (2011), Oxford Handbook of Political Behavior (2007), Citizens, Democracy and Markets around the Pacific Rim (2006), Citizen Politics, 4th edition (2006) Democratic Challenges, Democratic Choices: The Erosion of Political Support in Advanced Industrial Democracies (2004), Democracy Transformed? The Expansion of Citizen Access in Advanced Industrial Democracies (2003), and Parties without Partisans: Political Change in Advanced Industrial Democracies (co-editor, 2001).Review:
The Good Citizen will be an outstanding addition to my list of required texts. I expect my students to respond very favorably: at long last there is a book that speaks favorably of youth rather than finding them wanting of cherished values and norms. There is no question that students will read this book, and likely bring it to the attention of parents, grandparents, former teachers, clergy, and myriad others who have criticized them for the way they have chosen to adapt to the contemporary world of high tech, global scope, and high-paced change taking place in a setting where established governments seem rather helpless to direct change toward a healthful and secure future. This is an exceptional book-the core idea is timely and important, the message will resonate extremely well with students (and younger faculty), and the data upon which it is based is first-rate and cleverly presented. I have no question that it will receive a great deal of attention-and be widely adopted. --Nicholas P. Lovrich, Washington State University
Russell J. Dalton's The Good Citizen shows that all the hand-wringing and pessimism about the collapse of citizenship in America is vastly overstated. Dalton gives a sophisticated and deep picture of what citizenship means, and shows how America's youth are in many ways far more engaged and more functional in their approach to their country than conventional wisdom suggests. This well-written, well-researched, and well- reasoned book is a must read for all the politicians, pundits and political scientists who have written and spoken for many years about the decline in citizen engagement in America. --Norman Ornstein, American Enterprise Institute
The conventional wisdom in political science is that younger voters fail the tests of citizenship in that they vote less than others, and are generally less knowledgeable and interested in government. The Good Citizen presents evidence that runs counter to this view and provides an expanded definition of what Russ Dalton calls 'engaged citizenship'. This provocative thesis is supported by a wide range of data and will foster a healthy debate about the meaning of civic engagement and the future of democracy. --David B. Magleby, Brigham Young University
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