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ERIC Number: EJ869467
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Mar
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0036-0112
States, Societies, and Sociologists: Democratizing Knowledge from above and below
Gaventa, John
Rural Sociology, v74 n1 p30-36 Mar 2009
In his presidential address, Jess Gilbert argues that big states, in alliance with social scientists, can work to democratize society. He points to two fascinating examples--the involvement of rural sociologists with local citizens for policy planning in the New Deal and similarly their role in the Farm Security Administration's Resettlement Communities Program. Both programs, though short-lived in administrative terms, created an enduring legacy of how sociologists might engage in the shaping of progressive and participatory policy, and what governments can do to aid bottom-up community development under certain conditions. Gilbert shows that these initiatives not only made change "at the time" but "over time" they continue to contribute to the democratic imagination about the possibilities of change. One hopes that as a new presidential administration comes into office in the United States, such historical lessons will foster similar initiatives and similar opportunities for sociologists and states to join forces for progressive social change. In this article, the author discusses the role of sociologists in bringing about democratic change. He also explores further the question of how change happens, by looking at some recent examples from outside the United States. Theses examples, as did those that Gilbert discusses from the U.S. New Deal, illustrate that state policy can make an important difference. (Contains 3 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; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Chile; Mexico; Philippines; South Africa