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Democracy, Inc.

Democracy, Inc.: The Press and Law in the Corporate Rationalization of the Public Sphere

Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Democracy, Inc.
    Book Description:

    In Democracy, Inc., David S. Allen exposes the vested interests behind the U.S. slide toward conflating corporate values with public and democratic values. He argues that rather than being institutional protectors of democratic principles, the press and law perversely contribute to the destruction of public discourse in the United States today. _x000B_Allen utilizes historical, philosophical, sociological, and legal sources to trace America's gradual embrace of corporate values. He argues that such values, including winning, efficiency, and profitability actually limit democratic involvement by devaluing discursive principles, creating an informed yet inactive public. Through an examination of professionalization in both the press and the law, corporate free speech rights, and free speech as property, Democracy, Inc. demonstrates that today's democracy is more about trying to control and manage citizens than giving them the freedom to participate. Allen not only calls on institutions to reform the way they understand and promote citizenship but also asks citizens to adopt a new ethic of public discourse that values understanding rather than winning. _x000B__x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09040-0
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    This book examines the complex relationship between corporations and the public sphere. While most critiques of corporate ownership focus on the product, this book attempts to uncover how the corporate form has changed the way we think and talk about democracy. It argues that corporations have altered the culture of democracy by changing the language and logic that we use to evaluate public life. In a sense, this work examines the ideology of modern-day democracy. It questions why democracy is structured the way it is and why civil society’s dominant institutions evaluate public life through the lens that they do....

  5. Part 1: The Corporation and Democracy

    • 1 The Rise of Corporate Rationalization
      (pp. 15-26)

      The examination of corporate influence on public life in the United States is not lacking in literature. From Alexis de Tocqueville through the Progressive movement to today’s corporate critics, the corporate form—or what Tocqueville called the “manufacturing aristocracy”¹—has attracted more than its share of attention. Much of that literature can be divided into two camps. On one side are those who see little good in the corporate form and what that form has wrought for today’s society. While most Progressives stopped short of calling for an end to corporations, preferring administrative rules, today’s critics tend to see little...

    • 2 Corporate Rationalization and Discourse Democracy: Seeking Alternatives
      (pp. 27-48)

      The history of corporate liberalism helps us understand the dominant political landscape that we live in today, but it does not explain how it became dominant and how citizens might critique that form. In an attempt to provide a framework for addressing those weaknesses, this chapter explores two ideas: rationalization and discourse democracy. The rationalization process, as put forward by Max Weber and applied to the modern welfare state by Jürgen Habermas, explains how bureaucratic logic has come to dominate the public sphere. Weber, while identifying the process, saw little that could be done to escape the problem. Habermas and...

  6. Part 2: Corporate Rationalization and Democratic Institutions

    • 3 Professionalization of the Press and Law: Routinization and Management
      (pp. 51-81)

      In 1922, Walter Lippmann clearly put forward the Progressive view: “[E]very complicated community has sought the assistance of special men, of augurs, priests, elders. Our own democracy, based though it was on a theory of universal competence, sought lawyers to manage its government, and to help manage its industry. It was recognized that the specially trained man was in some dim way oriented to a wider system of truth than that which arises spontaneously in the amateur’s mind.”¹

      For Lippmann, it is not so much that citizens are inept but rather that the world has become far too complicated for...

    • 4 Defining a Professional Mission: The Law and the Question of Public Representation
      (pp. 82-100)

      Vanessa Leggett is an odd poster child for American journalism’s professionalization movement, but in 2001 and 2002 she became just that. A freelance book author with only one published article to her credit, no book contract, and no representation from a major media firm, she is not what generally comes to mind when we speak of a professional journalist. Her ambition in life was to write true-crime books, to explore, as she told one reporter, “the duality of human nature, our ability to be imbued with such goodness and yet have a capacity for such evil.”¹

      She began collecting material...

  7. Part 3: The First Amendment and Public Life

    • 5 Corporate Ownership and the Press: Collapsing Distinctions
      (pp. 103-122)

      The uneasy relationship between corporations and the press reflects the problems corporations present for American democracy. Corporations have changed how journalism is done and where it focuses its attention. Journalists have long railed against corporate ownership—if not ownership in general—yet they continue to work within a system that fails to take their concerns seriously. While many journalists openly express their contempt for large media corporations such as Gannett, Knight-Ridder, and others, they also realize that these corporations are their source of financial security. Journalists who received stock options and large bonuses from corporately owned media have benefited when...

    • 6 Public Television, Parks, Parades, and Rest Areas: Managing the Property of Public Life
      (pp. 123-143)

      One of the ways that corporate rationalization dominates public life is by changing how citizens interact with space. In recent years, public life has increasingly been evaluated in corporate terms—as a form of property to be managed efficiently. Viewing the world through the lens of property rights (referred to as theLochnerera in chapter 5), the U.S. Supreme Court used substantive due process as a way to protect private business owners from government regulation. Beginning withWest Coast Hotel v. Parrish¹ in 1937 , and perhaps more importantly withUnited States v. Carolene Products² in 1938 , the...

    • 7 Resisting Corporate Rationalization: Toward a Discourse Theory of the First Amendment
      (pp. 144-160)

      As this book is being written, there are almost daily news reports of corporate malfeasance in the United States. Enron, Worldcom, Arthur Anderson, and others have become synonymous with corporate greed and corruption. Corporations such as these have come to dominate our public discussions and have complicated American domestic policy. A sense of hopelessness surrounds many of the reports; as lawmakers debate legislation that will make corporations responsible citizens, one gets the sense that few people really believe much will be accomplished. While legislation might change the structure of corporations, it will not resolve the corporate domination of public life....

  8. Notes
    (pp. 161-194)
  9. Index
    (pp. 195-200)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 201-204)