Civic Engagement & National Belonging

Kersh, R.
International Journal of Public Administration and Management .

In his essay “All Community Is Local,” political scientist William Schambra urges that researchers and activists “direct our gaze away from the failed project of national community and focus once again on the churches, voluntary associations, and grass-roots groups that are rebuilding America’s civil society one family, one block, one neighborhood at a time.” Schambra’s is a rather extreme version of a view expressed by many theorists of citizenship, as well as by political figures from both right and left: that the nation is too distant from most people’s lives (or its governing officials too impersonal or corrupt) to inspire a sense of shared purposes or civic spirit. Only intense local involvement yields rightly-constituted citizens, and small communities are the likeliest realm for realizing the public good.[1]