Background: In anthropology and related disciplines, the term “assessment” refers to the everyday activities of ordinary people as they figure out what to do next given what others have just done. The assessments, in turn, constitute what is happening, whether in encounters between policeman and person in the street, or classroom lesson, or joking about a teacher, or giving birth in a hospital, blogging, etc.
Findings: This review article briefly summarizes the major findings in such research and its roots in American pragmatic thought.
Conclusion: The article then suggest how to apply this form of analysis to long historical conversations about the foundations of democracy, the assessment of what building a democracy must entail, particularly as it relates to an educated citizenry, and then to the ongoing assessments of whether goals are being met and what reforms may be needed (e.g. “No Child Left Behind,”) continuing with further assessments that constitute new realities that will be subjected to further assessments in the political sphere.