In the classical political thought of the West, it was supposed that democracies must be small and direct. Democracy was a form in which all citizens must participate, thus it could exist only on a very circumscribed scale—that of the Greek city-state, in which, ideally, an assembly was limited to the range of the human voice. As modern nations arose, there arose as well the alternative conception that democracy could be representative. The people were assured of opportunities to render judgment on the officeholders’ conduct of office. Nonetheless, the idea survived that democracy was purer and more attainable on the small scale than on the large, and that its survival on a small scale was indispensable to its attainment on a larger scale.

Nationalist and localist traditions vie within the American federal system and the American experiment with self-government. Bringing together contributions from history, political science, and sociology, this book focuses primarily on the local, seeking to recapture its origins, explain its current impact, and assess its worth.


Editor’s Preface
Martha Derthick

Introduction: City Life and Citizenship and Locality
James Q. Wilson

Public-spiritedness and the American Regime
Steven L. Elkin

Part I. Local Self-Government in American Political History
1. The Origins and Influence of Early American Local Self-Government
Pauline Maier
2. Localism, Political Parties, and Civic Virtue
Sidney M. Milkis
3. How Many Communities?: The Evolution of American Federalism
Martha Derthick
4. Local Practice in Transition: From Government to Governance
Kathryn Doherty and Clarence N. Stone

Part II. The Place of Locality in Current Policy Choice
5. The Ideo-logics of Urban Land Use Politics
Alan A. Altshuler
6. Local Government and Environmental Policy
Marc K. Landy
7. Local Self-Government in Education: Community vs. Citizenship
Gregory R. Weiher and Chris Cookson
8. Net Gains: The Voting Rights Act and Southern Local Government
Richard M. Vallely
9. The People’s Court?: Federal Judges and Criminal Justice
William D. Hagedorn and John J. DiIulio Jr.

Afterword: Federalism and Community
Philip Selznick