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Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy Paperback – Jun 16 1994
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From Publishers Weekly
Harvard professor Putnam offers an in-depth examination of Italian politics and government.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Winner of the 1994 Charles H. Levine Memorial Book Prize
Winner of the 1994 Gregory Luebbert Award
Winner of the 1993 Louis Brownlow Book Award, National Academy of Public Administration
Honorable Mention for the 1993 Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in Government and Political Science, Association of American Publishers
"Seminal, epochal, path-breaking: All those overworked words apply to a book that, to make the point brazenly, is a Democracy in America for our times."--David L. Kirp, The Nation
"A great work of social science, worthy to rank alongside de Tocqueville, Pareto, and Weber.... If [Putnam's] claims about the essential conditions of successful democracy are correct (and they almost certainly are), then politicians and political scientists alike will have to think again about democracy's prospects in Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe."--The Economist
"A remarkable study of `civic traditions.'"--Steven Lukes, The Times Literary Supplement
"It is rare that one comes across a classic in political science, yet in Robert D. Putnam's Making Democracy Work we undoubtedly have one. . . . Mr. Putnam's seminal work addresses in a rigorously empirical way the central question of democratic theory: What makes democratic institutions stable and effective? . . . [His] findings strikingly corroborate the political theory of civic humanism, according to which strong and free government depends on a virtuous and public-spirited citizenry--on an undergirding civic community. . . . One crucial implication of Making Democracy Work is that feeble and corrupt government, operating against the background of a weak and uncivic society, tends not to foster the creation of wealth, but rather to renew poverty. Overmighty government may stifle economic initiative. But enfeebled government and unrepresentative government kills it, or diverts it into corruption and criminality. . . . This may not, perhaps, be a universal truth; but it is directly relevant to the prospects of democracy in the United States today."--The New York Times Book Review
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But if institutional design has limited explanatory power, then what other variable can better account for institutional performance? This is the more important half of Putnam's work, for it is where he shows that "social context and history profoundly condition the effectiveness of institutions" (182), by unveiling his more controversial and powerful independent variable: civic culture. What is civic culture? It goes by many names and concepts for Putnam (civic traditions, political culture, civic involvement, social capital, republican virtues) but in its most basic form it is "norms of reciprocity and networks of civic engagement" (167).
In contrast with the existence of this civic culture in Northern Italy, identified as having a millenium-long pedigree due to the North's highly decentralized political history, Putnam uses the concept of "amoral familism" to characterize the civic culture (or lack thereof) in Southern Italy.Read more ›
That said, Making Democracy Work is not a boring read, and its flaws at least encourage the reader to contemplate the million ways the book and the study it describes might have been better.
Beginning in 1977, Putnam and his colleagues studied the performance and reception of the 15 regional governments that had been first established in 1970. Given pre-existing disparities among the regions -- economic, cultural, political, demographic, nevermind linguistic and geographic -- it's little surprise that the researchers found that not all the regional governments developed the same way. While he found that the 'institutional socialization' of the new parliamentary bodies had a consistently positive effect on the regional politicians' growing professionalism and willingness to explore constructive compromises with ideological opponents, the governments were not uniformly effective or responsive, nor were their constituents uniformly happy with their efforts.Read more ›
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This is a great example of thorough and legitimate methodological research and quantitative analysis. A brilliant example for all political scientists to strive for. Read morePublished on Jan. 18 2013 by John MacLachlan
Which came first, responsive government or civic participation? Much like the chicken and the egg, this has been a question with no end of debate. Read morePublished on Nov. 3 1998 by Shawn Denney (email@example.com)
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