Critical Pluralism, Democratic Performance, and Community Power
With a New Preface by the Author
A central question in political science is who governs and how.
Typically political scientists attempt to answer this question by relying upon either empirical analysis, which explains existing political practices, or normative analysis, which prescribes ideal political practices.
“A solid study that makes a significant contribution to our understanding of community political power and democratic political theory. It should be read by all serious students of community power.”
—American Political Science Review
“Schumaker’s approach is intelligent, complex, and subtle.”
“This is an important book, political science that really matters. It seems certain to set a new agenda for research and thinking about democracy writ small in America.”
—Annals of the American Academy
“A significant contribution to the field. In the best tradition of urban case studies, it is theoretically focused. Other books have examined the politics and governance of a single community, but this book is unique because of the comparative issues focus. Schumaker has some powerful things to say about community governance. His findings will help to guide the future debates about who governs and how.”
—Bryan D. Jones, author of The Sustaining Hand: Community Leadership and Corporate Power and Governing Urban America
“A very impressive work on several fronts. First, the research upon which it is based is unusually ambitious and comprehensive. . . . Schumaker has come as close as seems feasible to providing an exhaustive review of the dimensions of democracy and power within one community. Second, it anchors its empirical analysis directly in contemporary issues of democratic theory. Third, it directly challenges the positivist distinction between normative and empirical analysis.”
—Jeffrey Henig, author of Neighborhood Mobilization and Public Policy and Federalism
“A rare combination of methodological rigor and theoretical sophistication. This book is an evaluative masterpiece. It shows that empirical methods can be brought to bear on the issue of democratic performance. This is political science in the tradition of V. O. Key—political science at its very best. Students across the discipline’s sundry subfields would profit greatly from reading it.”
—Clarence N. Stone, author of Regime Politics: Governing Atlanta, 1946–1988
“This is an innovative book that combines an extraordinary data collection effort with a sophisticated theoretical analysis It is probably the most thorough attempt to examine empirically the extent to which pluralism accurately describes political decision making in any city.”
—Susan Welch, author of American GovernmentSee fewer reviews...
Political scientist Paul Schumaker rejects this distinction between empirical and normative theory. Instead, he weds the two approaches to create the new analytical mode he calls critical pluralism. With it he can measure variances in government from pluralist/democratic ideals and still provide theoretical explanations of why the variances occurred.
Schumaker uses critical pluralism to describe, explain, and evaluate variations in three key measures of democratic performance: responsible representation, complex equality, and principle-policy congruence. To test his framework and methodology he analyzes 29 community issues that arose in Lawrence, Kansas, between 1977 and 1987. The results of his study—one of the most comprehensive databases ever in the study of community politics—will be of interest to those who study community power. The conceptual framework itself and methodology used in assessing democratic performance will have a lasting impact on the way community government is studied.