Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy

Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy

Paperback Princeton Paperbacks

By (author) Robert D. Putnam, By (author) Robert Jean Leonardi, By (author) Raffaella Y. Nanetti

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  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 280 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 229mm x 18mm | 408g
  • Publication date: 16 June 1994
  • Publication City/Country: New Jersey
  • ISBN 10: 0691037388
  • ISBN 13: 9780691037387
  • Edition statement: Revised ed.
  • Illustrations note: map, 38 figures
  • Sales rank: 130,811

Product description

Why do some democratic governments succeed and others fail? In a book that has received attention from policymakers and civic activists in America and around the world, Robert Putnam and his collaborators offer empirical evidence for the importance of 'civic community' in developing successful institutions. Their focus is on a unique experiment begun in 1970 when Italy created new governments for each of its regions. After spending two decades analyzing the efficacy of these governments in such fields as agriculture, housing, and health services, they reveal patterns of associationism, trust, and cooperation that facilitate good governance and economic prosperity.

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Review quote

Winner of the 1994 Charles H. Levine Memorial Book Prize Winner of the 1994 Gregory Luebbert Award Winner of the 1993 Louis Brownlow Book Award, National Academy of Public Administration Honorable Mention for the 1993 Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in Government and Political Science, Association of American Publishers "Seminal, epochal, path-breaking: All those overworked words apply to a book that, to make the point brazenly, is a Democracy in America for our times."--David L. Kirp, The Nation "A great work of social science, worthy to rank alongside de Tocqueville, Pareto, and Weber... If [Putnam's] claims about the essential conditions of successful democracy are correct (and they almost certainly are), then politicians and political scientists alike will have to think again about democracy's prospects in Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe."--The Economist "A remarkable study of 'civic traditions.'"--Steven Lukes, The Times Literary Supplement "It is rare that one comes across a classic in political science, yet in Robert D. Putnam's Making Democracy Work we undoubtedly have one... Mr. Putnam's seminal work addresses in a rigorously empirical way the central question of democratic theory: What makes democratic institutions stable and effective? ... [His] findings strikingly corroborate the political theory of civic humanism, according to which strong and free government depends on a virtuous and public-spirited citizenry--on an undergirding civic community... One crucial implication of Making Democracy Work is that feeble and corrupt government, operating against the background of a weak and uncivic society, tends not to foster the creation of wealth, but rather to renew poverty. Overmighty government may stifle economic initiative. But enfeebled government and unrepresentative government kills it, or diverts it into corruption and criminality... This may not, perhaps, be a universal truth; but it is directly relevant to the prospects of democracy in the United States today."--The New York Times Book Review

Back cover copy

Why do some democratic governments succeed and others fail? In a world full of hope for democratization but wary of government failure, this book offers empirical evidence for the importance of civic community in developing successful institutions. As part of a unique experiment begun in 1970 when Italy created new governments for each of its regions - regions that vary greatly from the standpoint of wealth, social structure, and political leanings - Robert Putnam and his collaborators spent two decades evaluating the performance of these governments in such fields as agriculture, housing, and health services. Their findings were surprising: regions that enjoy effective government in the 1990s have inherited a legacy of civic engagement that can be traced back to the early Middle Ages. Just as Tocqueville traveled to America to try to understand democracy, Putnam and his colleagues draw broad lessons for democratic theory from their twenty-year journey through Italy. Their conclusions challenge the simple-minded thesis of the primacy of economics and the easy optimism of social engineers. Based on dozens of case studies and thousands of interviews with politicians, community leaders, and ordinary citizens, this book illuminates patterns of associationism, trust, and cooperation that facilitate good governance and economic prosperity. It also contributes to the discussion of democracy in the newly freed lands of Eurasia and the developing world and to the gathering debate about how to revitalize democracy in America.