Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Community and federalism in the American political tradition
by Haworth, Peter Daniel, Ph.D., Georgetown University, 2008, 369; 3341612
Abstract (Summary)

Aside from the various minor issues, there are two major questions that are addressed in this dissertation: (1) Can socially cohesive community be attributed to the local and/or federal levels of the American system in the colonial and founding periods? (2) How has the political centralization of the twentieth century affected socially cohesive community and public policy for "sensitive" issues, which require such cohesion to become settled? The author attempts to answer these questions via articulating and defending the following thesis: Socially cohesive community (i.e., a mode of intrinsically valuable friendship community that can develop around shared thick-level values and that is often associated with political activity and local interaction) was a possibility for local-level communities during the colonial and founding periods of American history; whereas, when the colonies/States were grouped together as an aggregate union, they did not constitute a true nation or single community of individuals. Hence, such "union" lacked a common good (and, a fortiori, it lacked a thick-level common good necessary for social cohesion). Through the course of American history, the political system has been centralized or transformed from a federal system into a de facto unitary system, and this change has undermined the possibility of social cohesion at the local level. Since centralization trends have redistributed significant political power to the federal level, which is inherently non-cohesive, and away from the local level (i.e., a combination of a State and its localities), "sensitive" policy issues such as the abortion issue, which require socially cohesive community for "a settled" resolution, have become increasingly difficult to resolve. Moreover, significant centralization of the American system has resulted in damaging social cohesion at the local level. This has somewhat, but not irreparably, diminished the efficacy of transferring "sensitive" policy issues back to the local level in order to realize "settled" resolutions. Although much of the United States today seems to lack local-level communities with thick-level moral and theological/philosophical agreement and social cohesion, there are some possibilities for re-establishing this through both re-federalizing the United States and implementing private initiatives to establish local communities among those with the same moral-theology.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Carey, George
Commitee: Mitchell, Joshua, Schall, James
School: Georgetown University
Department: Government
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 69/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: American history, Political science
Keywords: Community, Federalism, Political tradition
Publication Number: 3341612
ISBN: 978-0-549-97140-5
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