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SAAP Annual Meeting 2018

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George Herbert Mead, Public Philosopher of the City: Fostering the Transformative Potential for Building Democratic Cities

George Herbert Mead’s insights about how to achieve a deeper democracy date from the late years of the nineteenth century. Mead argues that local urban activism is the most effective way to foster wider social and political change. Since the early 1960s, leading social theorists have developed Mead’s original insights on the effectiveness of participatory and deliberative democracy as a tool for transforming communities through empowering local civic leaders and other citizens to influence public decisions. Like Dewey, Mead argued that achieving this goal requires individual and civic investment in a long-term process of educating citizens and their significant groups in deeply democratic habits of community living. This paper argues that Mead’s theories of sociality, community, and democracy can be instrumental in interlinking participants in developing decision tools to create new, more deeply democratic urban spaces that change urban cultures while transforming the built and natural architectures of contemporary cities.

David Woods
United States


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