Democracy Works: Joining Theory and Action to Foster Global Change

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  • Length: 272 pages
  • Trim size: 6" x 9"

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  • ISBN: 978-1-59451-603-0
  • Publish date: January 2009
  • List Price: $50.95
  • Your Price: $43.31


  • ISBN: 978-1-59451-602-3
  • Publish date: October 2008
  • List Price: $163.00
  • Your Price: $138.55


Throughout the world, from the United States to Tanzania, Chechnya, and Sri Lanka, everyday people are working together and taking actions to improve their lives, end inequality, and change global society. Action groups and movements see dialogue and learning as important ways to extend democracy and, with its inclusiveness, remake society. Long-term change often takes place in civil society and its institutions. By putting strategy with theory, local groups and movements are able to begin making changes in institutions that allow people to begin living in new ways. Inclusive, multicultural projects make dedicated efforts to end hierarchy and global injustice and reinvent culture, ideas, and social relations.

Written for laypeople and students interested in change, these multidisciplinary essays take readers on a journey of discovery as they show how various groups have brought theory and action together to make urban, rural, and transnational change. These case studies and explanatory articles reveal how feminist, antiracist, ecological, and peace movements reinforce each other. This collection is an analytical organizing tool that demonstrates how people can initiate well-placed and enduring change. The writings also identify the inadequacies of academic change theories and highlight the contributions of intellectual activists across the world.

  • Social change is made by groups that take democracy beyond the realm of electoral politics and use its processes as a central way to discuss needs, ideas, and ways to make social change.
  • Women and feminists (those who work for equality at all levels, changing issues around gender and sexuality, race, and the global order) have emerged at the heart of this grassroots democratization process.
  • Many movements seem to be converging as part of this democratic, local to global change. These movements work to end inequalities, to open up new ways of thinking, and to create more open cultures.
  • Environmental and peace movements often generate democratic activists that take up women’s causes and vice versa. A lot of this change takes place in civil society, in neighborhoods and rural areas that are somewhat removed from the centers of power.
  • Participatory action groups are learning how to make change; change is fundamentally an educational process that helps institutions meet more people’s needs.
  • This book covers diverse theories, ways to bring about change, and the history of change. It is multicultural and transnational, including numerous case studies of social change groups.


Democracy Works is important and much needed. It is the rare book that offers a combination of theory and action, grounded in local work and placed within a global context. This collection broadens both our understanding and our skills.”
Suzanne Pharr, former Director of Highlander Center

“Fascinating analyses of how the praxis of democratic social movements really works to effectuate significant social change. Extremely intelligent and useful.”
Immanuel Wallerstein, Yale University


PART I: Examining Theory, History, Methodology, and Action

Chapter 1: Using Democracy to Promote a Historical Transition Today Torry Dickinson

Chapter 2: Participatory Action-Research, Inclusiveness, and Empowering Community Action at the Western Institute for Social Research John Bilorusky, Terry Lunsford, and Cynthia Lawrence

Chapter 3: Deliberative Democracy as a Foundation for Sustainable Social Change Donna C. Schenck-Hamlin, Timothy R. Steffensmeier, and William J. Schenck-Hamlin

Chapter 4: The Power of One: Democracy and the Fear of Freedom as Political Paradigm Prabha Manuratne and Buddhika Bandara

PART II: Changing the Intersecting Global Institutions of Firm, Market, State, Household, "Race," Class, Gender/Sexuality/Age, and Global South/North

Chapter 5: Abolishing the Dealth Penalty, Abolishing Prisons Mechthild Nagel

Chapter 6: Defining Nonviolence as a Language and Strategy Susan L. Allen

Chapter 7: Women's Civil-Societal Movements for Peace in Chechnya and Russia Ekaterina Romanova

Chapter 8: Becoming an Activist for Global Gender Change Christopher E. Renner

Chapter 9: "Comercio con Justicia" and Theory in Action at a Guatemalan Women's Textile Cooperative Summer B.C. Lewis with Kendra Staley

Chapter 10: The Corporatization of Fair Trade, Small Farmers, Alienated Consumers, and Social Movements Rink Dickinson

PART III: Rebuilding Civil Society, Reclaiming the Civil Commons

Chapter 11: Women Take the Lead: Changing Global Economics with Grassroots Cooperatives Joyce Rothschild

Chapter 12: Education for Life at Danish Folk Schools and Highlander Marilyn Jackson

Chapter 13: Addressing Global Water Issues Together Terrie A. Becerra

Chapter 14: Building Feminism, Redesigning Water Governance in Sub-Saharan Africa Leticia Nkonya

Chapter 15: "Have I Got an Ethic for You!": Ecofeminism as the Heart of Progressive Environmental Action Valerie Carroll

Chapter 16: The Evolution of an Agricultural-Environmental Ethic Dan Nagengast

Chapter 17: Social Change through Sustainable Agriculture and Sustainable Consumers Rhonda R. Janke

Chapter 18: The Small Farmers' Movement of Cajibio, Colombia, and the Central New York Sister-City Partnership Colleen Kattau

PART IV: Changing Intersecting Institutions, Reinventing Society

Chapter 19: Praxis Reinvents Education, Democracy, and Society Torry D. Dickinson


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