The Culture of Democracy: A Sociological Approach to Civil Society
Under Contract with Polity Press
In Polity’s “Cultural Sociology” Series
Against the dark backdrop of pressing issues in today’s world, civil societies remain vibrant. Part of its vibrancy comes from people’s belief that they should and can solve these issues and build a better society through their participation in self-governing activities. Their desire to improve their societies, their imagination of a good society, their understanding of their engagement, and the norms of their interaction in their concerted efforts constitute the cultural aspect of civil society. Central to the cultural aspect of civil society is the culture of democracy, including values, individual interpretations, and interaction norms pertaining to features of a democratic society, such as civility, independence, equality, liberty, tolerance, solidarity, and so on. The culture of democracy varies in different contexts and faces challenges, but it shapes civic actions, changes people’s lives, alters political and social processes, and thus is the soul of modern civil societies.
This book is an introduction to the cultural sociology of civil society, the first of its kind. It shows how a focus on the cultural aspect of civil society, especially the culture of democracy, can help us understand some important topics, including the public sphere, civil associations, individuals’ civic engagement, global civil society, and civil societies in undemocratic contexts. In doing so, it takes a global perspective by devoting about half of its space to discussions of non-Western civil societies and the global and transnational associations and public spheres.
In a world where everyone is eager to have their voice heard, cultural sociology as an “art of listening,” a thoroughly empirical approach that takes ideas, meanings, and opinions seriously, is what a democratic social life needs.
Written in an accessible style, The Culture of Democracy will be an invaluable resource for upper-level undergraduates, graduate students, and established research scholars alike of cultural sociology, political sociology, social theory, and political science. Its global perspective can also interest readers based in various parts of the world.
Outline of Chapters
Introduction: Civil Society and the Culture of Democracy
Chapter 1: Values, Codes, and Discourses in the Public Sphere
Chapter 2: Civility in Associational Life
Chapter 3: Meanings of Individuals’ Civic Engagement
Chapter 4: Global Civil Societies
Chapter 5: The Culture of Democracy in Undemocratic Contexts