The crucible of consent : American child rearing and the forging of liberal society /
James E. Block.
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 2012.
xii, 447 p. ; 25 cm.
0674051947 (hbk.), 9780674051942 (hbk.)
More Details
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 2012.
0674051947 (hbk.)
9780674051942 (hbk.)
contents note
Introduction: is consent credible? -- The hidden dynamic of childhood consent -- Part I. The dream of revolutionary erasure -- Part II. Framing liberal child-rearing in the early republic: from factionalism to mainstream: the emerging consensus on agency socialization; constituting the voluntary citizen; socializing society: popular education and the diffusion of -- Agency; educating the agent as liberal citizen -- Part III. Consolidating the postwar agency republic: the "self-made" citizen: the science of agency and the erasure of socialization; a superfluous socialization? shaping the self-realizing child; divided we stand: education in the emerging organizational age -- Coda: from dewey to discord-the twentieth-century crisis of the consensual society.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2012-09-01:
An American ideal is that government must be based on the consent of the governed, but that very notion gives rise to the fear that something as ephemeral as consent cannot ground a stable social order. The objective of this book is to explain how America, the first country to base its legitimacy on consent, sought to assuage that fear by developing new forms and ideals of child rearing that would reliably produce individuals who would accept the social order and see their freedom in terms of the constrained set of opportunities that order offered. Block (DePaul Univ.) tells the story of 19th-century America's struggle to develop an account of child rearing and to extend it beyond the middle class to the whole of society and to immigrants; he concludes with an account of the breakdown of the 19th century ideal in the 20th century. The argument is framed as a crisis in liberalism, which is often depicted for expository purposes as a principal actor in this drama, since it is the source of the ideal of rule by consent. The book is not easily accessible, and may be of interest to specialists. Summing Up: Recommended. Professional collections. J. D. Moon Wesleyan University
Review Quotes
No one understands the struggle with authority at the heart of American liberalism better than James Block, and no one conveys more vividly its vitality and inner tension. Following up his arresting depiction of America as A Nation of Agents , Block now considers the cultivation of liberal citizens, of men and women who would internalize cultural expectations and obligations without losing their innate spontaneity, creativity, and love of freedom. Recovering a preoccupation with this problem in the nineteenth-century literature on child rearing, The Crucible of Consent reminds us of the best in our national character and of the complications that have come to impede its latter-day expression.
A major reinterpretation of the history of American childhood and child rearing, with a powerful and persuasive central thesis. The sweep of the narrative is breathtaking and the degree of erudition remarkable.
A fresh and richly illuminating work, based on profound scholarship and written with verve, passion, and occasional eloquence. The Crucible of Consent is an agenda-setting work that we will be reckoning with for a long time.
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Choice, September 2012
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Main Description
A democratic government requires the consent of its citizens. But how is that consent formed? Why should free people submit to any rule? Pursuing this question to its source for the first time, The Crucible of Consent argues that the explanation is to be found in the nursery and the schoolroom. Only in the receptive and less visible realms of childhood and youth could the necessary synthesis of self-direction and integrative social conduct-so contradictory in logic yet so functional in practice-be established without provoking reservation or resistance. From the early post-revolutionary republic, two liberal childrearing institutions-the family and schooling-took on a responsibility crucial to the growing nation: to produce the willing and seemingly self-initiated conformability on which the society’s claim of freedom and demand for order depended. Developing the institutional mechanisms for generating early consent required the constant transformation of childrearing theory and practice over the course of the nineteenth century. By exploring the systematic reframing of relations between generations that resulted, this book offers new insight into the consenting citizenry at the foundation of liberal society, the novel domestic and educational structures that made it possible, and the unprecedented role created for the young in the modern world.
Bowker Data Service Summary
A democratic government requires the consent of its citizens. But how is that consent formed? Why should free people submit to any rule? Pursuing this question to its source, this book argues that the explanation is to be found in the nursery and schoolroom.
Table of Contents
Prefacep. ix
Introduction: Is Consent Credible?p. 1
The Hidden Dynamic of Childhood Consentp. 9
The Dream of Revolutionary Erasure
The Revolution against Patriarchy and the Crisis of Foundingp. 41
Unencumbered Youth and the Postrevolutionary Vacuum of Authorityp. 66
Divergent Childhoods, Different Republics: The Initial Turn to Socializationp. 91
Framing Liberal Child Rearing in the Early Republic
The Emerging Consensus on Agency Socializationp. 119
Toward a Child-Centered Familyp. 153
Winning the Child's Willp. 174
Socializing Society: Popular Education and the Diffusion of Agencyp. 194
Educating the Agent as Liberal Citizenp. 216
Consolidating the Postwar Agency Republic
The "Self-Made" Citizen and the Erasure of Socializationp. 241
A Superfluous Socialization? Shaping the Self-Realizing Childp. 272
Educating the Voluntary Citizen in an Organizational Agep. 289
Coda: From Deweyan consensus to the Crisis of Consentp. 323
Notesp. 355
Acknowledgmentsp. 421
Indexp. 423
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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