Alexis de Tocqueville feared that government policies would someday erode the culture of hard work and self-reliance that are critical to the success of American democracy. The question of how to maintain individual freedom and economic prosperity in the face of growing government programs and a declining commitment to work and self-reliance forms the centerpiece of this project. The project considers: (1) What is the importance of work, the potential of self-governance, and the challenge of dependency within democratic societies? (2) How has the balance between work, private associations, and government programs changed over time in the US; and how does this change manifest in levels of individual responsibility, levels of employment, and/or social dependency among the citizenry? (3) Do more active state social policies erode the common conventions of work, self-reliance, and community interdependence necessary to sustain an open, dynamic, and responsible public; and do such policies provide positive effects that might offset any of these potential costs? This project explores the importance of work and self-governance as well as the root causes and consequences of the modern shift toward dependency by creating an academic environment where researchers can discuss the gaps in the scholarly literature, pursue cutting-edge research to fill those gaps, and communicate their findings to the public and policymakers. Through commissioned research, symposia, and outreach, we will extend the conversation (both inside and outside of the academy) about the proper scale and scope of government activity and the role of work and self-governance in fostering a resilient and prosperous society. Our interdisciplinary and multiple-method approach, in the tradition of the Austrian, Virginia, and Bloomington schools of political economy, will provide new insights to this debate and raise awareness about the importance of work and associations to a free society.