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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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Capacity and Expression: The Tactical Repertoire of Citizenship

Capacity and Expression: The Tactical Repertoire of Citizenship

(p.110) Chapter Six Capacity and Expression: The Tactical Repertoire of Citizenship
Citizen Speak
University of Chicago Press

Spurred into action by concern with an issue, groups need to decide what to do about it. This chapter examines how they make that decision. What kinds of citizenship actions can citizens imagine? What are citizens looking for when they think about how to get involved? What makes one kind of citizenship more attractive than another? It shows that citizens are concerned both with effective action (capacity) and with the opportunity to make their voices heard (expression). They balance these two concerns in much the same way classical sociologists suggested they would: by understanding some actions as instrumental and others as expressive. Citizens also use creativity, imagination, and narratives about past political activity to construct ideas about what they can do and how different actions might affect the balance between instrumental and expressive actions.

Keywords:   political participation, citizenship, effective action, citizens, capacity, expression, creativity, imagination, narratives

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