Date of this Version
In The Good Citizen, Michael Schudson describes four interconnected but ultimately distinct eras of American civic life, each characterized by the dominance of a particular model of citizenship. In the first era, roughly corresponding to the 18th and early 19th centuries, citizens deferred to the leadership of political elites – civic responsibility consisted mainly of affirming the legitimacy of this ruling caste. The second era, in place throughout the remainder of the 19th century, was characterized by the dominance of political parties. In this period, citizens played a more central role, though this role was orchestrated by strong local party organizations that mobilized the masses through the tangible incentives of patronage, entertainment and other individual, material rewards rather than through detailed appeals to ideology or issues.
Date Posted: 09 January 2008