This book analyzes the issues surrounding civilian national service policy from a fresh and original perspective. The author connects national service programs to the political theories of civic republicanism and communitarianism, assesses the practical consequences of these theories, and examines past youth service programs such as the CCC and Peace Corps to see if they are appropriate models or ideals for a national program. Gorham engages the issue of compulsory versus voluntary service and questions whether service tasks can instill a sense of "citizenship" in young people, as defenders of the program claim. Using the work of Michel Foucault, Charles Taylor, Carole Pateman, and others, he suggests that national service, as presently planned, will not create the "citizen" so much as a post-industrial and gendered subject. In the concluding chapters, he presents an argument for a democratic national service and offers an alternative program for policymakers to consider.
Eric B. Gorham is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Loyola University, New Orleans.
"Political socialization has long been a theoretical sore spot in political science. Gorham has demonstrated its weaknesses as a conceptual scheme for interpreting citizenship, and he has opened up a new area of investigation for political scientists and theorists concerned about the current debates and proposals for a new national service. His argument has historical depth, theoretical rigor, and immediate practical implications. " — Stephen L. Esquith, James Madison College of Michigan State University
"Gorham's book is stimulating and provocative. It contributes to a growing body of thought on the importance of a new public philosophy, one that emphasizes politics and community as necessary and positive dimensions in individual life. His criticism and prescriptions for national service policy should take center stage in the current debate. " — Richard T. Green, University of Wyoming
"Citizenship has become a topic of central concern to political scientists and political theorists in the last few years, and Eric Gorham's book is an important contribution to the intellectual debate on the subject. National Service, Citizenship, and Political Education is a masterly analysis of the arguments surrounding the national service debate, and provides further evidence of the major contribution political theorists can make to understanding the public policy process. " — Alan Ware, Worcester College, Oxford University