Local political geography and American political identity

Robert R. Rodgers, Stephen Macedo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEthnographies of Neoliberalism
PublisherUniversity of Pennsylvania Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9780812241921
StatePublished - 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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