Reeher, Grant 1960- (Grant Davis Reeher)

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Reeher, Grant 1960- (Grant Davis Reeher)


Born August 6, 1960, in Baltimore, MD; son of David Harry and Elizabeth Denoon Reeher; married Kathryn Ann Sowards, June 15, 2002; children: Davis. Education: Dartmouth College, B.A., 1982; Yale University, M.A., Ph.D., 1992. Hobbies and other interests: Jogging, hiking.


Office—Syracuse University, Department of Political Science, 100 Eggers Hall, Syracuse, NY 13244. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer, editor, political scientist, and educator. Federal Executive Institute, Charlottesville, VA, member of faculty, 1999; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, health-care policy fellow, 1995-97; Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, associate professor and research associate, Campbell Institute, 1992—. Member of board of directors of Social Capital Development Corporation.


American Political Science Association (section chair, 1998-2002).


William Anderson Award, American Political Science Association, 1993.


(Editor, with Ian Shapiro) Power, Inequality, and Democratic Politics: Essays in Honor of Robert A. Dahl, Westview Press (Boulder, CO), 1988.

Narratives of Justice: Legislators' Beliefs about Distributive Fairness, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 1996.

(Editor, with Joseph Cammarano) Education for Citizenship: Ideas and Innovations in Political Learning, foreword by Benjamin R. Barber, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 1997.

(Editor, with Mack Mariani) The Insider's Guide to Political Internships: What to Do Once You're in the Door, Westview Press (Boulder, CO), 2002.

(With Steve Davis and Larry Elin) Click on Democracy: The Internet's Power to Change Political Apathy into Civic Action, Westview Press (Boulder, CO), 2002.

First Person Political: Legislative Life and the Meaning of Public Service, New York University Press (New York, NY), 2006.

(Editor, with Terry Newell and Peter Ronayne) The Trusted Leader: Building the Relationships That Make Government Work, CQ Press (Washington, DC), 2008.

Contributor to periodicals and journals, including the Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law.


Author, political scientist, and educator Grant Reeher is an associate professor and research associate at the Campbell Institute of Syracuse University. Educated at Dartmouth College and Yale University, Reeher conducts research in areas such as social justice, health- care politics and associated policy, democratic processes, and legislative behavior, according to the Syracuse University Maxwell School of Political Science Web site. He teaches courses in democratic theory and practice, local internship, and classic theories of American politics.

In Narratives of Justice: Legislators' Beliefs about Distributive Fairness, Reeher draws on detailed interviews conducted with thirty-five United States senators in 1988 to construct an "impressive and engaging account of elite belief systems, focusing on attitudes concerning the distribution of material goods," commented Paul Schumaker in the American Political Science Review. Based on his analysis of the interviews, Reeher places the legislators in one of three categories: Critics, Supporters, and Ambivalents. Critics believe that the lower classes are essentially victims of the wealthier classes that exploit them for profit. They believe that material goods should be distributed according to need. They are critical of institutions and social practices that "fail to provide the disadvantaged with essential economic, psychological, and social resources," Shumaker reported. They seek changes in human psychology that stress compassion and empathy, and see the government as an institution that can provide a level of equalization through taxes and other programs. Supporters, on the other hand, express ideological beliefs that are largely opposite those of Critics. They reject the idea that the lower class is being victimized, and instead assert that upward mobility is available to all who want to put forth the effort to achieve it. They see the market as a best source of distribution of goods, since it awards progress based on merit. They seek a psychological transformation that eliminates personal vices and instead fosters character, motivation, and self-reliance. They also see the government's social aid and redistribution policies as interfering in the egalitarian nature of the market. Finally, Ambivalents see both strengths and weaknesses in both the market and the government. Capitalism is the best economic system, they feel, but it does not reward those unable or unprepared to participate fully in it. Economic fairness rests on access and impartiality. They do not see the government as an impediment or enabler, but instead view it as a "public agency that can marginally enhance opportunity, especially through strong civil rights laws and extensive early education," Schumaker stated. In this context, Reeher "seeks to establish the relevance of the normative beliefs of policy makers to the legislation they produce," and how their ideas of social need and justice influence their work, Schumaker noted. At a higher level, he uses his interviews and analysis to support the value of narratives in relating political and social belief systems.

Education for Citizenship: Ideas and Innovations in Political Learning is a collection of essays edited by Reeher and Joseph Cammarano. The editors assemble works that address the intersection of higher education and the characteristics of being an active, participating citizen in a democracy. In addition to considering philosophical questions of how higher education can support the institutions and values of the democratic process, the authors also provide teaching suggestions that can be applied in classrooms and educational planning. Among the topics discussed are the design and implementation of citizenship classes and public affairs internships; using simulations to help students understand public policy issues; reduction of reliance on large lecture classes in favor of smaller, more intense discussion groups; and the use of the online community as an supplement to classroom learning and as a source of engagement in citizenship for students. Barbara Jacoby, writing in the Journal of Higher Education, called the book a "provocative and thoroughly readable volume." Jacoby concluded, "I found the entire work to be well written and tightly edited. This, coupled with its rich and stimulating content, made it enjoyable and worthy of my highest recommendation."

Reeher delves deeper into the potential political power of the Internet and World Wide Web with Click on Democracy: The Internet's Power to Change Political Apathy into Civic Action, written with Steve Davis and Larry Elin. The authors identify the 2000 national elections as the first election cycle in which the Internet had an important, strategic impact on the election process. They focus on the ways in which ordinary citizens used the Internet to build active communities of politically minded colleagues, and how these groups and individuals influenced politics through fundraising, organizing, disseminating information, and campaigning in the cyber world. The authors "challenge our standard understanding of relationships between the Internet and political and civic engagement," noted Steven Puro in Perspectives on Political Science, even as they encourage politically minded readers to "become political participants through Internet user communities."

In First Person Political: Legislative Life and the Meaning of Public Service, Reeher takes a close look at the realities of serving as an American legislator as he "analyzes the everyday experience of elected political life," commented a Reference & Research Book News critic. He bases his evaluation on the content of extensive interviews conducted in 1990 with seventy-seven legislators from Connecticut, Vermont, and New York. Supplementing his direct interviews are survey and questionnaire responses from 233 legislators from the same three states. Throughout the book, Reeher's goal is to improve understanding of the lives of politicians by providing a realistic glimpse into the daily activities, motivations, backgrounds, and aspirations of elected officials. His stated goal is to reverse negative opinions that the general public has about elected officials, and to explore the meaning of public service in an elected capacity. He "seeks to do this by learning directly from those serving why and how they got to the legislature, what they experienced as legislators, and why they decided to stay or to leave office," noted Gerald Benjamin in the Political Science Quarterly. Reeher discovers that state legislators are "often from politically oriented families," and are "people deeply rooted in their communities," Benjamin reported. Their dedication to public service is contrasted with the stress and severe demands on their time, with the hardships that political life and campaigns can impose on families, and, ultimately with the lofty goal of making a difference to the larger body of American society.



American Political Science Review, March, 1998, Paul Schumaker, review of Narratives of Justice: Legislators' Beliefs about Distributive Fairness, p. 239.

Journal of Higher Education, January-February, 1999, Barbara Jacoby, review of Education for Citizenship: Ideas and Innovations in Political Learning, p. 107.

Journal of Politics, November, 1997, Leroy N. Rieselbach, review of Narratives of Justice, p. 1305.

Perspectives on Political Science, summer, 2003, Steven Puro, review of Click on Democracy: The Internet's Power to Change Political Apathy into Civic Action, p. 187.

Political Communication, April-June, 2005, Kenneth Rogerson, review of Click on Democracy, p. 237.

Political Science Quarterly, winter, 1997, Kay Lehman Schlozman, review of Narratives of Justice, p. 704; winter, 2006, Gerald Benjamin, review of First Person Political: Legislative Life and the Meaning of Public Service, p. 714.

Political Studies, March, 1991, Adrian Leftwich, review of Power, Inequality, and Democratic Politics: Essays in Honor of Robert A. Dahl, p. 224.

Prairie Schooner, winter, 1997, review of Narratives of Justice, p. 704.

Reference & Research Book News, May, 2006, review of First Person Political.


Syracuse University Maxwell School of Political Science Web site, (March 17, 2008), faculty profile.