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The Ecology of Democracy: Finding Ways to Have a Stronger Hand in Shaping Our Future

This 2014 book written by David Matthews, president of the Kettering Foundation, focuses on how to put more control in the hands of citizens when it comes to shaping the future of their communities and country. It was published by the Kettering Foundation Press.

From the Publisher:

Ecology-CoverThe Ecology of Democracy: Finding Ways to Have a Stronger Hand in Shaping Our Future is for people who care deeply about their communities and their country but worry about problems that endanger their future and that of their children. Jobs are disappearing, or the jobs people want aren’t available. Health care costs keep going up, and the system seems harder to navigate. Many worry that our schools aren’t as good as they should be. The political system is mired in hyperpolarization. Citizens feel pushed to the sidelines.

Rather than giving in to despair and cynicism, some Americans are determined to have a stronger hand in shaping their future. Suspicious of big reforms and big institutions, they are starting where they are with what they have.

This book is also for governmental and nongovernmental organizations, as well as educational institutions that are trying to engage these citizens. Their efforts aren’t stopping the steady erosion of public confidence, so they are looking for a different kind of public participation.

The work of democracy is work. Here are some ideas about how it can be done in ways that put more control in the hands of citizens and help restore the legitimacy of our institutions.

David Mathews is a husband, father, grandfather, gardener, and a member of the Clarke County Historical Society. Although a nonpartisan independent, he served as a Cabinet officer in the Ford administration (Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare). He is a former president of the University of Alabama, where he taught history. Now president of a research organization, the Kettering Foundation, he writes books like Politics for People, which has been translated into eight languages. He doesn’t sail or ski and has no musical talents, but his dog loves him.

Table of Contents includes:



Introducing the People Who Make Our Democracy Work

Part I. Democracy Reconsidered

1. Systemic Problems of Self-Rule

2. Struggling for a Citizen-Centered Democracy

3. The Political Ecosystem

Part II. Citizens and Communities

4. “Here, Sir, the People Govern.” Really?

5. Putting the Public Back in the Public’s Business

6. Citizens: Involved and Informed?

7. Public Deliberation and Public Judgment

8. Framing Issues to Encourage Deliberation

9. Opportunities in Communities

10. Democratic Practices

Part III. Institutions, Professionals, and the Public

11. Bridging the Great Divide

12. Experiments in Realignment and Possibilities for Experiments




Ordering info: The book is currently available for purchase from the Kettering Foundation

Resource Link: http://kettering.org/publications/ecology-of-democracy/

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