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Citizen SpeakThe Democratic Imagination in American Life$
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Andrew J. Perrin

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780226660790

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226660783.001.0001

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Talking about Politics in Groups: What to Look for in Citizenship Discourse

Talking about Politics in Groups: What to Look for in Citizenship Discourse

(p.36) Chapter Three Talking about Politics in Groups: What to Look for in Citizenship Discourse
Citizen Speak
University of Chicago Press

This chapter provides a framework for understanding the democratic imagination. It concentrates on the following question: What kinds of benchmarks should we look for in evaluating political talk? The ideas and methods that arise in answer to this question are used to discuss the specific dimensions of the democratic imagination in later chapters. The rest of the book consists of foraging for the democratic imagination—searching through citizenship talk to find our object. This chapter gives us the tools to know when we have found it. First it develops a scheme for analyzing specific talk and its relationship to citizenship. Next, it takes up the question of what makes talk imaginative—what are the clues in citizens' discourse as to the breadth and nuance of their thinking? What repertoires do citizens bring to political talk, and how do they mobilize them? Here, the chapter provides the dimensions we can use to explore citizens' thinking. It concludes by describing the civic contexts the author put together in the focus groups—the specific arenas where he found democratic imaginations.

Keywords:   democratic imagination, citizenship, political talk, focus groups

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