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Kettering Review Summer 2009

The Kettering Review is a journal of ideas and activities dedicated to improving the quality of public life in the American democracy. Published by the Kettering Foundation, each issue addresses a single theme, including including the changing roles of the citizen, the press, public leadership, and public opinion. Contributors include a diverse group of American and international educators, historians, philosophers, and social and political scientists. The Review is edited by Robert Kingston and Noëlle McAfee.

The Summer 2009 edition focuses on “politics and economics.”  Below is an excerpt from the introduction…

An essential challenge to democratic self-rule is that most citizens feel powerless to exercise control over their communities’ economic futures. Well before the current financial crises, people felt that their communities were being overwhelmed by economic change. While most can respond individually to changes in economic conditions, they do not see that their capacities to act together with others—to act as a citizenry—can have any impact on their communities’ economic futures. The cascading effects of economic change can appear to sweep over communities without warning or explanation. Indeed, they can lead away from the democratic impulse, toward centralized or expert-driven measures that promise direct relief—as has clearly been seen in recent international contexts, where attempts at transition toward more democratic governance have been fundamentally threatened by economic challenges.

Meanwhile, however, much of the research into the response to economic change emphasizes things that can only be done by people acting in and with their communities. Indeed the challenge of economic development has become widely seen by analysts and practitioners as an array of interrelated challenges that implicate a deliberate emphasis on a learning-based approach. The term development refers to change, over time, in the capacity for experiments in innovation and ways of associating among the people of a place, and also in the sense of possibility that such increased capacity can generate. Case studies of economic and political development—the two being subcomponents of the same thing—are inevitably stories of collective learning from experience.

Two fundamental characteristics of conventional political practice discourage the development of that kind of citizen-based learning. First, and especially in the context of economic challenges, things that people and their civic associations can do often go unrecognized by governing institutions, the media, and people themselves. Second, even when possibilities for civic acting are identified, the inability to recognize and deal with moral disagreement about directions to take can stifle progress. Both challenges suggest the need for experiments that recognize a form of adaptive order that structures the ways people interact together in a learning modality. In her monumental studies of the ways cities work, Jane Jacobs captured the dynamic nature of the challenge: “Of course it is not chaos,” she wrote in Cities and the Wealth of Nations. “It is a complex form of order, akin to organic forms of order typical of all living things, in which instabilities build up…followed by corrections, both the instabilities and the corrections being the very stuff of life processes themselves.”

In this spirit, we have invited six authors to explore three different dimensions of the challenge in hopes of contributing to broadening the dialogue about the importance of returning to thinking about politics and economics as intertwined activities in public life. The greatest untapped resources in meeting societies’ challenges are those generated by citizens outside government,working together in communities.

Robert J. Kingston, Editor of the Kettering Review

…along with the contents of the journal…

Contents of the Summer 2009 Edition

Editor’s Letter
Robert J. Kingston

Up from the Wetlands: A Different Thinking about Economic Development
Ramón E.Daubón

Generating the Power for Development through Sustained Dialogue: An Experience from Rural South Africa
Teddy Nemerof

Using Emergence to Take Social Innovations to Scale
Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze

Democratic Practices and Cultural Resilience: How the Pomore People Flourished under Authoritarianism
Antonina Kulyasova, Ivan Kulyasov, and Philip Stewart

The Workplace: A Forgotten Topic in Democratic Theory?
David Ellerman

From Employee Engagement and Civic Engagement: Exploring Connections between Workplace and Community Democracy
Will Friedman

… afterthoughts
David Mathews

This edition of the journal is currently available as both a free download and in print (also free with shipping) from the Kettering Foundation website.

Resource Link: http://kettering.org/periodicals/kettering-review-2009/

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