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Do-It-Yourself DemocracyThe Rise of the Public Engagement Industry$
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Caroline W. Lee

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199987269

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199987269.001.0001

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Challenging Enemy Institutions

Challenging Enemy Institutions

(p.63) 3 Challenging Enemy Institutions
Do-It-Yourself Democracy

Caroline W. Lee

Oxford University Press

What does the craft of public engagement facilitation entail? Chapter 3 unpacks the challenges practitioners face in professionalizing the “process arts.” In making the case for expert administration of humble democratic practices pioneered in the 1960s, practitioners narrate an evolution from adversarialism to a belief in incremental change in whole systems. They carefully balance the tensions of top-down empowerment by blending discourses from therapy, New Age religiosity, and corporate management. Progressive critiques of institutions are linked to neoliberal beliefs in devolving and privatizing governance. As such, public engagement resembles the social movements practitioners repeatedly invoke much less than the “heart-focused” corporate culture and economic insecurities of the twenty-first century.

Keywords:   process arts, professionalization, corporate culture, social movements, management, New Age, therapy

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