Civic Hope in the U.S.: 1948 to the Present: Rod Hart, former dean of the Moody College of Communication, holds the Shivers Chair in Communication at U.T.-Austin. His presentation covers the highlights of a long-term study of lay politics in American life. Based on an extensive content analysis of some 10,000 letters-to-the-editor published in 12 small-city newspapers between 1948 and 2012, the study traces what ordinary Americans have been saying about the state of their nation. Civic hope is defined as a set of expectations that (1) enlightened leadership is possible despite human foibles, (2) productive forms of citizenship are possible in a pluralistic society, and (3) democratic traditions can be depended upon to ensure prudent governance. Needless to say, the American people have waxed and waned on these beliefs over time. This study explains when and why that has happened.

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