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The Public and Its Possibilities


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Table of Contents

Preface: The Public and Its Possibilities
Introduction: Liberalism and the Civic Strand in the American Past
Civic Aspirations and Liberal Values
An Urban ThesisPart I. Civic Aspirations and Market Development in a Long Age of Revolution

1.Democratizing the Republican Ideal of Citizenship: Virtue, Interests, and the Citizen-Proprietor in the Revolutionary Era
Seaport Cities: Crucibles of Market and Public
The People Out of Doors and the Imperial Crisis
A More Democratic Public: Consumer Boycotts Politicize the Household
The Threat of Enslavement and the Need for Virtue: The Unifying Myth of the American Revolution
Virtue and Vice in an Overheated Market
Redeeming the Revolution: Virtues or Mechanisms?
Citizen-Proprietors and the Democratization of Competence
Revolutionary Legacies, Democratic Futures

2. Creating Citizens in a Commercial Republic: Market 33 Transformation and the Free Labor Ideal, 1812-1873
The Origins of the Free Labor Ideal
The Market Revolution and the Public Purpose
Labor Politics in the Jacksonian City: Unjust Government and a Conspiracy to Enslave
A Crippled Democracy: Jacksonian Fears and Whig Paternalism
The Free Labor Ideology and the Transformation of Northern Whiggery
Positive Liberty: Turning Slaves into Citizens
The Limits of Radical Republicanism

3. The Short, Strange Career of Laissez-Faire: Liberal Reformers and Genteel Culture in the Gilded Age
Big Business and Small Politics in the Gilded Age
Liberal Reformers and Genteel Culture
The Liberal Reformers' Encounter with the City
Civic Murder: Liberal Reformers and Public Opinion
"This Word Culture": An Industrial Tragedy at PullmanPart II. Popular Culture, Political Culture: Building a Democratic Public

4. The Democratic Public in City and Nation: The Jacksonian City and the Limits of Antislavery
Constructing a Public Realm
In the Streets: Law and the Public Realm
To the Park: The Strengths and Weaknesses of the Jacksonian Public
Popular Culture, Political Culture
Young America and Democratic Culture
The Republic of the Streets and Fields
The Astor Place Riot
Fatal Flaw: Young America and Negrophobia
Cultural Laissez-Faire versus the Evangelical United Front
Antislavery: Passion and Rationality in the Antebellum Public
Lincoln's Rhetorical Revolution

5. The Democratic Public Discredited: The New York City Draft Riots and Urban Reconstruction, 1850-1872
"The Most Radical City in America"
Nativism and the Erosion of Municipal Autonomy
The New York City Draft Riots
Draconian Justice: Reconstructing New York City
The Spectacular Rise and Precipitous Fall of Boss Tweed
Postwar Republicanism: Labor Revolt and Metropolitan Capital
Retrenchment and Reform

6. Cultural Hierarchy and Good Government: The Democratic Public in Eclipse
Highbrow/Lowbrow and an Incompetent Citizenry
Don't Get Out the Vote
Municipal Counterrevolution: Dillon's Rule and the Benevolent Expert
Domesticating the City
Civic Vertigo: The City Biological and Pathological
The Degeneration of Popular Politics
Mob Mind, Befuddled PublicPart III. The Public in Progressivism and War

7. The Republican Moment: The Rediscovery of the Public in the Progressive Era
The City Beautiful and Intelligent
The Georgists and the City Republic
Democracy as Cooperative Inquiry: The Social Centers Movement
Mass Media and the Socialization of Intelligence
Nickel Madness or the Academy of the Working Man?
The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures and the Mutual Decision
The Rise of Hollywood and the Incorporation of Movie Culture

8. The Public Goes to War but Does Not Come Back: Requiem for a Participatory Democracy
The War Intellectuals and The New Republic
The War for the American Mind
From Mastery to Drift
Trusting the Public Too Much or Too Little?
A Democrat on the Defensive
Participatory Democracy and Urban Culture: From Public Opinion to Public RelationsPart IV. A Democracy of Consumers

9. From Economic Democracy to Social Security: The Labor Movement and the Rise of the Welfare/Warfare State
Industrial Democracy, Industrial Discipline
The Syndicalist Moment
From the New Freedom to the New Nationalism: War and the Triumph of the Corporate State
Labor's War
From Welfare Capitalism to Moral Capitalism
Democratic Unions, Labor Party
The Second New Deal: Consumerist Democracy and the End of Antimonopoly
From New Deal to New War: Liberals and Labor Abandon Reform
Taming Labor in the Welfare/Warfare State

10. Constructing a Consumer Culture: Redirecting Leisure from Civic Engagement to Insatiable Desire
The Popular Demand for Leisure and the Rise of the Saloon
The Leisure Question and Cheap Amusements
The Discovery of Play
Captains of Consciousness, Land of Desire
Exit the Saloon, Enter the Bijou
Shaping Character, Inculcating Values
The Incorporation of the Consumer Culture
Mass Culture, Mass Media, and the Consumerization of Politics

11. Private Vision, Public Resources: Mass Suburbanization and the Decline of the City
New Deal Urban Policy and the Suburban-Industrial Complex
The Origins of the Urban Crisis I: Eroding the Tax and Employment Base
The Origins of the Urban Crisis II: Homeowner Pop u lism and the Fragmentation of Metropolitan Government
Central City Housing: The Racial Time Bomb
Dispossession: Urban Redevelopment and Urban Renewal
Confronting the Reverse Welfare State: From Civil Rights to Black Power
Two Societies, Separate and Unequal
Suburban Secession and Farewell to the Public Realm

Conclusion: The Future of the City: Civic Renewal and Environmental Politics/i>
The Great Unfinished Tasks of American Civilization
Private City, Public Crisis
Visions of Fear and Hope
Toward an Ecology of the CityAcknowledgments

Promotional Information

Throughout U.S. history, our unrealized civic aspirations provide the essential counterpoint to an excessive focus on private interests of Technology.

About the Author

John D. Fairfield is Professor of History and Academic Director of the Institute for Politics and Public Life at Xavier University and the author of The Mysteries of the Great City: The Politics of Urban Design, 1877-1937.


"An ambitious work of scholarly synthesis, The Public and its Possibilities braids together descriptions of socioeconomic trends, cultural conflicts and political philosophy from the late colonial era to the present... Resting on vast historical scholarship, The Public and its Possibilities would provide a useful interpretive spine for an undergraduate history course, comparable in some ways to Eric Foner's The Story of American Freedom."--American Studies, Vol. 52, No. 2 "[Fairfield provides] a multitude of references to key events, movements, people and organizations used to expound [his] narrative... This book plays a crucial role in exposing the many striking similarities between the concerns of today and the past... In terms of his narration, Fairfield saves the best for last with a truly excellent and comprehensive final chapter focusing on the damage inflicted on American cities by suburbanization and middle-class self-interest... [T]he strength of the book is in detailing the continuing conflict inherent in the struggle for democratization as civic aspirations are perpetually set against private and individual interests. The central theme of the role of citizenship and how to cultivate this for the public good offers a reminder of how this has persisted right up to the present. Fairfield's excellent narrative will be of interest to scholars and students across the social sciences who are interested in the development of the American city and in the struggles and contestations for civic participation and democracy." Housing Studies "One of the many overarching themes Fairfield addresses, the one that most effectively conveys the evolution of the US city is civic activism. The author connects this theme to virtually every other historical topic, such as women's rights, labor, economics, and ultimately, urban ecology, in a most convincing manner. Although this is a scholarly work, general readers will find the prose accessible and stimulating. Summing Up: Recommended." - Choice "In The Public and its Possibilities, John D Fairfield synthesizes the work of a multitude of scholars to give a detailed overview of the trajectory of the public throughout American history. It is an impressive survey of American social, political and labour history as seen through the lens of a civic public created through deliberation and engaged with political questions... The Public and Its Possibilities is a wonderful resource for understanding how a democratic public has been imagined, promoted and repressed throughout the history of the USA. It chronicles the centrality of the urban to the democratic public and makes a significant argument for the importance of cities to our social and political health." - Urban Studies

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