New Book: Making Model Citizens in Los Angeles

Posted by on March 4, 2005

From: “Stacy Zellmann”

A history of the urban and political forces in L.A. that sought to create virtuous and docile citizens.

THIS IS THE CITY: Making Model Citizens in Los Angeles
Ronald J. Schmidt Jr.
University of Minnesota Press | 192 pages | 2004
ISBN 0-8166-4190-0 | hardcover | $56.95
ISBN 0-8166-4191-9 | paperback | $18.95

Ronald Schmidt reveals how the political culture of Southern California is structured by efforts to exhort citizens to emulate models of virtue and to coerce them to imitate passive behavior. This Is the City traces this effort to “script” the Los Angeles social life, demonstrating how democratic pedagogy and popular media have been used to advance a utopian vision of government.

In a history peopled by outsized characters like Harrison Gray Otis, first publisher of the L.A. Times, and studio moguls Louis B. Mayer and Jack Warner, Schmidt shows how Angeleno elites, from media mavens to the militaristic heroes of the LAPD, have offered themselves as models of civic virtue and have used popular culture and political rhetoric to consolidate their power and remake the city in their image.

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