Alexis de Tocqueville famously argued for the importance of local politics as a school of national citizenship: "Local institutions are to liberty what primary schools are to science; they put it within people's reach; they teach people to appreciate its peaceful enjoyment and accustom them to make use of it. Without local institutions a nation may give itself a free government, but it has not the spirit of liberty" (Tocqueville 1969:63). A high degree of administrative decentralization in the United States helped keep government close and accessible to ordinary citizens, Tocqueville observed. Because citizens naturally take an interest in what affects them directly-often mundane matters such as roads and garbage collection-decentralization helped to translate this interest into the possibility of influence and so activity. Local government invited the direct participation of ordinary citizens in democratic self-government.
|Title of host publication
|Ethnographies of Neoliberalism
|University of Pennsylvania Press
|Number of pages
|Published - 2011
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Social Sciences