Date of this Version
In his important and provocative book, The Good Citizen, Michael Schudson argues that there have been four distinct eras of American civic life, each characterized by a different model of citizenship. In the first era, roughly corresponding to the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, citizens deferred to the leadership of political elites, and civic responsibility consisted mainly of affirming the legitimacy of this ruling caste. In the second era, in place throughout the remainder of the nineteenth century, citizens played a more central role, though one orchestrated by strong local party organizations that mobilized the masses through patronage, entertainment, and other individual, material rewards rather than through detailed appeals to ideology or issues.
Date Posted: 11 January 2008