From the Tea Party to Occupy Wall Street, and from cryptocurrency advocates to the #MeToo movement, Americans and citizens of democracies worldwide are losing confidence in what we once called the system.
This loss of faith has spread beyond government to infect a broad swath of institutions—the press, corporations, digital platforms—none of which seem capable of holding us together. The dominant theme of contemporary civic life is mistrust in institutions—governments, big business, the health care system, the press.
How should we encourage participation in public life when neither elections nor protests feel like paths to change? Drawing on work by political scientists, legal theorists, and activists in the streets, Ethan Zuckerman offers a lens for understanding civic engagement that focuses on efficacy, the power of seeing the change you make in the world.
Ethan Zuckerman is the founder of the Institute for Digital Public Infrastructure at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and associate professor of public policy, information, and communication. From 2011–20, he led the Center for Civic Media at the MIT Media Lab. He is cofounder with Rebecca MacKinnon of the international blogging community Global Voices.