Date of Award
Josef Korbel School of International Studies
John F. McCamant, Ph.D.
Arts organizations, Civil society, Community building, Social movements
This study suggests that effective forms of participation are grounded in histories of opposition and resistance. The intermediate relationship provided by voluntary associations, unions, clubs and even bowling leagues might teach citizens to act democratically; that is, to participate in activities related to electing leaders, but their usefulness extends beyond conventional politics to efforts to expand public life and to promote democracy through a broader set of activities that combine intensely social and personal public engagement, resistance, protest, and opposition, with conventional efforts to influence leaders. The experiences of community based arts organizations provide a lens to examine both the barriers and opportunities that many organizations and their supporters face in their attempts to expand civil society. Community based arts organizations speak to issues that other institutions aren't addressing, preserve and perpetuate culture that is threatened and meet the needs of citizens who aren't being served well by dominant culture institutions. The position of these organizations within their own communities and within the public sphere, places them in a unique position to raise issues and to enforce accountability among institutions and the larger public who often lack cultural competency.
Political actors respond to political fragmentation by creating autonomous enclaves that cannot be easily classified and/or generalized. Although voluntary associations are seemingly conventional components of a conformist civic culture, they are versatile and multidimensional spaces that serve many needs for members, who experience meaningful face-to-face relationships, as well as an opportunity for dialogue and debate. In small spaces, individuals have the opportunity to intentionally build community through practices of dialogue, mentoring, reciprocity, friendship and accountability. In an environment where accountability is enforced it is easier to recognize and confront the contradictions that arise in every community.
Ownership is derived from a shared investment and effort that is channeled into an enterprise, and it is an important component in participation. Movement building begins with simple efforts to engage individuals in a common struggle: it requires significant investment from individuals, and support from a community that reinforces the effort. New interpretations of movement building make it clear that autonomous enclaves have significant value to communities and provide important lessons in creating sustainability.
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Mote, Tanya Marina, "Carpas, Cuentos, and Corridos: Chicano Arts and Community Building" (2009). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 456.
Received from ProQuest
Tanya Marina Mote
Political Science, Hispanic American studies