Chapter

Democracy as Public Presence: Walking the Bounds

in Real Democracy

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2003 | ISBN: 9780226077963
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226077987 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226077987.003.0003
Democracy as Public Presence: Walking the Bounds

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Town meetings take place every year in Vermont, require over four hours of time, and more often than not cost the citizens who attend a day's pay. Still, the single most important statistic—20.5 percent turnout at the town meeting—needs a lot of explaining. In doing the explaining, this chapter intends to set forth the empirical parameters of town meeting participation as one might want to see the details of participation in ancient Athens or the little towns that surrounded it—the demes. Further, the hard part is to discover why turnout at a town meeting is as it is. Answers to the question most researched by political scientists in the second half of the twentieth century (why people participate in politics) do little to guide the researcher in the search for the correlates of participation in real democracy. Participation in real democracy dances to a different tune. To begin to discover why, one needs to find out how many citizens attend the town meeting, consider some of the things they do there, and get a feel for the meetings and the communities where they are held.

Keywords: town meeting; Vermont; real democracy; public participation; communities; public presence

Chapter.  11041 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: US Politics

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