Theda Skocpol notes that traditional fraternal associations like the Lions and the Elks, which once gathered people at the local level who were diverse in terms of class and occupation (although segregated by race and gender), have lost their college-educated members. But non-college-educated or working class people remain just as likely to join these groups. It is not so much that working-class people have left civic groups, but that professionals have left them--moving from economically diverse local associations to specialized organizations for their own professions and industries.
The proportion of all Americans who are professionals or managers has roughly doubled since the 1950s. That is a benign shift in our workforce, reflecting better education and more interesting jobs. It largely explains why highly educated specialists have become more numerous in meetings. They bring sophistication and expertise to community affairs. Still, two thirds of people do not classify themselves as professional or managers, and it important for their values and interests to be represented. The steep decline in traditional civil society leaves them poorly represented, to their cost and to the detriment of public deliberation.
Thursday, October 07, 2010
Civil Society and the Expert Class
Peter Levine mulls over the professionalization of governance concentrated in a segment of the population and its effects on democratic voice.