Active citizenship in the administrative state
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The intent of this research has been to develop an answer to the practical question of active citizenship in the administrative state. In political philosophy, the literature of direct democracy suggests that active citizens are people capable of learning to make decisive judgments in the public interest. But critics have held that the idea is unworkable: that modern governmental bureaucracies are too large and complex, interest group politics too entrenched, and human nature too self-interested for ordinary people to practice citizenship in an administrative framework. The project has two parts. First, the classic features of active citizenship have been recast in administrative terms, as citizens' exercise of purposeful discretion in the conduct of administrative affairs delegated to them by public administrators. It is argued that cooperative action by lay citizens and administrators-as-citizens within the framework of a public agency perspective can be seen as constituting a polis. Second, an example of existing interaction between lay citizens and administrators is examined: the Community Health Center Program in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is argued that this example, while neither capable of nor intended to support a general normative theory of public administration, illustrates that a true practice of active citizenship is possible within the administrative state. Features of the illustration are interpreted in light of this argument.
- Doctoral Dissertations