Attention Deficit Democracy: The Paradox of Civic Engagement

By Ben Berger | Go to book overview

Chapter 2
THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT

We are left to swim in a sea of empirical and theoretical messiness.
Intolerably blunted conceptual tools are conducive, on the one hand, to
wasteful if not misleading research, and, on the other hand, to a meaning-
less togetherness based on pseudo-equivalences.

—Giovanni Sartori, “Concept Misformation in Comparative Politics”

I HAVE ALREADY BEGUN the case against civic engagement. In this chapter I introduce further evidence that consigns the term to exile or obsolescence, including an overview of its short but mischievous life. I will also expound on my proposed replacements. We need a richer vocabulary to help us think and talk about the various kinds of attention and activity that help to make democracy work.

Some might doubt whether we can or should distinguish among political, social, and moral engagements. Not only can we, but Hannah Arendt correctly asserts that we ignore those distinctions at our peril. To Arendt, politics comprises the space of human freedom and “the social” must not infect its domain.1 Arendt’s “social” denotes a realm of human life marked by necessity that opposes freedom.2 Her category of the “social” thus includes economics, which must be barred from consideration in the free political realm. Politics, conversely, involves people coming together freely to strive greatly, act boldly, and—in the shining light generated by free individuals acting cooperatively—reveal their distinctiveness and find meaning in their lives. I demur from Arendt’s idiosyncratic characterizations of the political and the social but I agree with her overarching point: politics loses all meaning if anything and everything can fall within its purview.3

Arendt also stresses the vital importance of judgment and “thinking what we are doing,” traits and orientations that resemble what I call moral engagement.4 In the absence of judgment—in the presence of

1 Cf. Pitkin (1998).

2 Arendt (1959: 37, 51; 1963: 96–97; 1973: 329).

3 Mark E. Warren also distinguishes between “politically (power) oriented associations”
and “socially oriented associations.” See Mark E. Warren (2001: 122).

4 Arendt (1959: 5).

-24-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Attention Deficit Democracy: The Paradox of Civic Engagement
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 201

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.