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ERIC Number: EJ869465
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Mar
Pages: 22
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0036-0112
Democratizing States and the Use of History
Gilbert, Jess
Rural Sociology, v74 n1 p3-24 Mar 2009
A pervasive anti-statism often blinds us to the democratic victories in the past and thus to possibilities in our future. This article argues that big government can democratize society and uses historical investigation to make the point. The study of history emancipates us from the tyranny of the present. Progressive social change has come about in the United States and elsewhere as "combined" bottom-up, top-down initiatives. I present two such cases of democratization during the New Deal era. The first is about rural sociologists' participatory-action research with local citizens for policy planning. This program, while short-lived, fed into the creation of the field of community development. The other is a land-reform experiment among poor African Americans. In the 1960s these "resettlement communities" became local strongholds of the civil-rights movement, and their descendants carry on the struggle today. I use these two historical instances to show that big states as well as social scientists have been effective agents of democracy, and suggest that they can be again. History then enable us to re-imagine, re-new, and re-form our democratic tradition of rural sociology. (Contains 5 footnotes.)
Rural Sociological Society. 104 Gentry Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211-7040. Tel: 573-882-9065; Fax: 573-882-1473; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A