The Department of Government
The Department of Government

Nancy Rosenblum: "Good Neighbor Nation: The Democracy of Everyday Life in America"

Fri, February 15, 2013 | BAT 5.108

4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Nancy Rosenblum, Senator Joseph Clark Professor of Ethics in Politics and Government, Department of Government, Harvard University

"Good Neighbor Nation: The Democracy of Everyday Life in America"

This project explores "Good neighbor" as part of Americans' personal and national identity. The  array of institutions, rules, and agreed on purposes that shape social and political relations in most settings are absent from relations among neighbors. We neighbors are on our own when it comes to conducting ourselves day to day, the judgments we make of those living nearby, our responses to their good and bad turns, and our responsibilities to them (if any). Neighbor relations also lack a developed moral framework: no professional ethic, no articulation of “special responsibilities” of the sort moral philosophers attribute to family and friends, no claim about “associative duties” we are said to owe social groups to which we belong seem to apply. It is hard to think of another sustained interaction except friendship that floats so free of rules and roles. "Good Neighbor Nation” is undergirded instead by a distinct set of dispositions and practices that are part of the deep structure of democracy. I call this the democracy of everyday life, whose elements are prior to and surprisingly different from the public principles that govern democratic civil society and political life. 


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