Race and Civil Repair (4)

Jeffrey C. Alexander

in The Civil Sphere

Published in print August 2006 | ISBN: 9780195162509
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199943364 | DOI:
Race and Civil Repair (4)

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The dramatic deepening of the identification of northern whites with protesting southern blacks, and the profound arousal of civil consciousness that both triggered and reflected it pushed the elected representatives of the civil sphere decisively in the direction of regulatory reform. When there is an independent civil sphere, powerful state officials face two masters. Authorities in the structure of state power, they are, at the same time, officials of the civil sphere. On the one side, they face power-political considerations generated by the need to maintain governmentality, state power, and party position; on the other side, they face demands for moral solidarity and symbolic responsiveness from the civil community. Until Birmingham, the reformist thrust of the Kennedy administration had been paralyzed by the countervailing pressure to maintain the allegiance of the Democratic Party in the South. After Birmingham, they were much less willing to accept these power-political “necessities,” and they became more responsive to riveting moral demands from the civil sphere.

Keywords: civil sphere; regulatory reform; Birmingham; Kennedy administration; moral demands

Chapter.  12443 words. 

Subjects: Sociology

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