A challenge to complacency and non participation in American politics


 

The Two Faces of Political Apathy

Thomas DeLuca

paper EAN: 978-1-56639-315-7 (ISBN: 1-56639-315-9)
$35.95, Aug 95, Available
cloth EAN: 978-1-56639-314-0 (ISBN: 1-56639-314-0)
$79.50, Aug 95, Out of Stock Unavailable
304 pp 6x9 2 figures


Finalist for Transformational Politics Book Award, American Political Science Association, 1996

"Political Science, says DeLuca, too often encourages 'the belief that half-hearted, demi-democracy is all we can expect.' DeLuca expects more. What's more, he shows in compelling prose just how half-hearted democracy engenders class injuries and destructive political resentments. The Two Faces of Political Apathy both poses a powerful challenge to democratic complacency and uncovers the promise of a more generous democratic ethos buried within American culture."
William E. Connolly, The Johns Hopkins University

This inclusive study examines the extraordinarily high rates of political nonparticipation in the United States and the political, historical, institutional, and philosophical roots of such widespread apathy. To explain why individuals become committed to political apathy as a political role, Tom DeLuca begins by defining "the two faces of political apathy."

The first, rooted in free will, properly places responsibility for nonparticipation in the political process on individuals. Political scientists and journalists, however, too often overlook a second, more insidious face of apathy—a condition created by institutional practices and social and cultural structures that limit participation and political awareness. The public blames our most disenfranchised citizens for their own disenfranchisement. Apathetic citizens blame themselves.

DeLuca examines classic and representative explanations of non-participation by political analysts across a range of methodologies and schools of thought. Focusing on their views on the concepts of political power and political participation, he assesses current proposals for reform. He argues that overcoming the second face of apathy requires a strategy of "real political equality," which includes greater equality in the availability of political resources, in setting the political agenda, in clarifying political issues, and in developing a public sphere for more genuine democratic politics.


Excerpt

Excerpt available at www.temple.edu/tempress


Reviews

"The Two Faces of Political Apathy is an excellent book. Based on a penetrating and insightful analysis of key political concepts—including power, interest, participation, and depoliticalization—and conflicting theories of political apathy, Tom DeLuca presents a persuasive argument to explain the persistence of mass political passivity that grips the American polity. It is an ideal book for courses in political democracy and political theory."
Peter Bachrach, Temple University

"Tom DeLuca develops a brilliant exegesis of contemporary democratic theory in order to illuminate patterns of political participation and nonparticipation in the late twentieth century United States. More than that, he complements his deft probing of theory with a sustained examination of the bearing of power inequalities on nonparticipation, and a brave consideration of the impediments to reform posed by concentrated power."
Francis Fox Piven, The City University of New York


Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Politics of Nonparticipation

Part I: Roots of Apathy
1. Liberalism, Laissez-faire, and Republic
2. Love and Fear of Equality
3. American Political Development
4. The Science of Liberal Politics

Part II: Explanations of Nonparticipation
5. The Virtues of Apathy
6. Apolitical Man
7. The Rationality of Apathy
8. Plain Democratic Theory
9. The Subordination of Politics
10. Absolute Apathy
11. Race, Gender, and Explanation

Part III: Overcoming Apathy
12. Real People and False Consciousness
13. The Second Face of Apathy
14. The Empirical Basis of Democratic Reform
15. The Ideas Behind Reform

Conclusion: Real Political Equality
Epilogue: A Time for Democracy
Notes
Index


 

About the Author(s)

Tom DeLuca is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Fordham College at Lincoln Center. He has been a long-time activist on local and national issues, especially nuclear arms control, and his op-ed pieces on politics have appeared in The New York Times, New York Newsday, The Nation, and The Progressive.


Subject Categories

Political Science and Public Policy

 

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