Finding a Way to Deliberative Democracy: Rural Montana Historical Societies and the Reinvigoration of the Social Bond

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The practicalities of public administration accepting O.C. McSwite’s challenge to become the new carrier of the social bond are formidable. This study argues that for public administration to successfully transition from a market-based bond to a social bond of discourse, it is the responsibility of citizens to first firmly established public discourse as a practice in civil society. This study asks: as a civic association, to what extent does a historical society have the capacity to reinvigorate the social bond? To answer that question this research uses a qualitative strategy in conducting an exploratory study of four rural Montana historical societies and their attendant museums. The findings show that rural historical societies, as active caretakers of community identity within the political realm of civil society, meet the benchmarks for the reinvigoration of the social bond: concern for community welfare; acknowledgement of a mutual dependence within civil society; recognition of a multiplicity of diverse views; and a commitment to public engagement in collaborative, consensus driven decision-making.



Public administration, Social structure


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