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Habits of the Heart: Individualism and…
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Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life (Original 1985; 1986. Auflage)

von Robert N. Bellah

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First published in 1985, Habits of the Heart continues to be one of the most discussed interpretations of modern American society, a quest for a democratic community that draws on our diverse civic and religious traditions. In a new preface the authors relate the arguments of the book both to the current realities of American society and to the growing debate about the country's future. With this new edition one of the most influential books of recent times takes on a new immediacy.… (mehr)
Mitglied:ahcrouch
Titel:Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life
Autoren:Robert N. Bellah
Info:Harpercollins (1986), Edition: 1st Perennial Library ed, Paperback
Sammlungen:Deine Bibliothek
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really appreciate this book and Robert Bellah's insights ( )
  literaryjoe | Oct 27, 2018 |
A good examination of, to put it in very simple terms, the problematic place of individualism in American life. Wish I had read the latest edition, though. ( )
  KatrinkaV | Apr 2, 2012 |
Habits of the Heart is required reading for anyone who wants to understand how religion contributes to and detracts from America's common good. An instant classic upon publication in 1985, it was reissued in 1996 with a new introduction describing the book's continuing relevance for a time when the country's racial and class divisions are being continually healed and ripped open again by religious people. Habits of the Heart describes the social significance of faiths ranging from "Sheilaism" (practiced by a California nurse named Sheila) to conservative Christianity. It's thoroughly readable, theologically respectful, and academically irreproachable.
  Corrientes | Feb 16, 2010 |
Can USAmerica survive through the 21st century?

Public education in a modern democracy requires a new quadrivium. To survive, basically all citizens must master the four R’s: reading, writing, arithmetic, and responsibility—that is, civic responsibility. The first two R’s must focus on the communication arts including the critical “reading and writing” of media presentations; the third R must be defined to include statistics and scientific reasoning. But, if the US is to serve as the republic envisioned in our Constitution, that fourth R must not be neglected. Indeed, civic literacy and responsibility should be seen as the very reason for universal public education.

Habits of the Heart (1986), by Robert Bellah and his colleagues, is the kind of reading that should be required of all citizens. Based on social research, involving extensive interviews and observation of “middle-class Americans,” it explores tensions that have inevitably arisen between earnest individualism and the sense of community, between a competitive marketplace and social idealism, between rigorous self-reliance and mutual supportiveness. Ultimately, in the last chapter, Habits of the Heart points to ways that a balance might be renewed and sustained.

As the authors point out in their preface, the questions they ask are not primarily psychological or sociological but cultural: “We wanted to know what resources Americans have for making sense of their lives, how they think about themselves and their society, and how their ideas relate to their actions.” They begin with case studies of a few representative modern citizens, detailing their “pursuit of happiness,” They proceed with a brief historic survey of “culture and character,” identifying early biblical and republican strands that underlie the American way of life, then the utilitarian individualism of a Benjamin Franklin and the expressive individualism of a Walt Whitman.

Chapters are devoted to private life (for example, finding oneself, love and marriage, and reaching out through modern therapies) and public life (getting involved in work and community, participation in government and volunteer associations, religion, and the national society). The national society throughout the 20th century is seen as developing, first, through the Progressive Movement of T. R. Roosevelt. Progress was defined by the Establishment of industrial and financial elites, represented by an Andrew Carnegie. Such a definition was challenged by Populism (“the spirit of fraternity abroad in the land,” as expressed by Eugene Debs). There followed the Welfare Liberalism of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal countered by the Neocapitalism of his opponents. By the end of the century these had given way to an unresolved tension between supporters of an Administered Society, relying on a powerful elite, including economic experts in government agencies, and an Economic Democracy, emphasizing broader citizen participation in decision making and a more genuine egalitarianism in social and economic considerations.

The final chapter, “Transforming American Culture,” recognizes that we have fallen into a “culture of separation,” in which a sense of community or coherence has been weakened; “individualism” has focused the pursuit of happiness on each individual’s dream of personal success and on the intensity of personal feelings rather than on ideals of service and solidarity. The division of society into competing economic classes has reestablished an elite, affluent class, on the one hand, and, on the other, a welfare class, dwelling in poverty, or a struggling working class, threatened by poverty and, hence, anxious and self-centered.

“The litmus test that both the biblical and republican traditions give us for assaying the health of a society,” the authors maintain, “is how it deals with the problem of wealth and poverty.” Further, they say, “Contemporary social science has documented the consequences of poverty and discrimination, so that most educated Americans know that much of what makes our world and our neighborhoods unsafe arises from economic and racial inequality.”

Among other things, Bellah and his colleagues envision a transformation requiring (1) a changing economic system in which “business operates so as to encourage new initiatives in economic democracy and social responsibility,” (2) a restoration of “the dignity and legitimacy of democratic politics,” (3) a recovery of a social motivation that would “link [personal, individual] interests with a conception of the common good,” (4) the elimination of “differences that are patently unfair while respecting differences based on morally intelligible commitments,” (5) provision of “work that is intrinsically interesting and valuable” and that takes its meaning not only from “private aggrandizement,” but also from its “public contributions,” and especially (6) an awareness “of our intricate connectedness and interdependence.”

Such a transformation, the authors freely admit, would not be easy. It would involve reform not only in education, public media, government, and the economy, but also in public and personal consciousness. What they call “the poverty of affluence,” the packaged good-life, would have to give way to a revived sense of community and of social responsibility—even in the business sector, especially in the business sector:

“Reasserting the idea that incorporation is a concession of public authority to a private group in return for service to the public good, with effective public accountability would change what is now called the ‘social responsibility of the corporation’ from its present status, where it is often a kind of public relations whipped cream decorating the corporate pudding, to a constitutive structural element in the corporation itself.”

In such a corporate culture the ennui of bureaucratic management would give way to the excitement of professional management. Civic apathy would have to be replaced by active deliberation and participation. What a dramatic transformation that would be.
1 abstimmen bfrank | Jun 30, 2007 |
In short, their book testifies to their refusal to be governed by the current fashion or conventional wisdom of the academy. Such inde­pendence, I must add, has long been true of Bellah, to my mind the premier American sociologist of our day and the senior scholar, if not senior author, in this collaboration. He and his co­authors bear no animosity toward their fellow citizens and are less inter­ested in criticizing them than in under­standing them. And even where they are critical, they remain sympathetic and charitable. Indeed, I take them to argue that such qualities mark them as faithful to a central, if understated, element of American tradition, that which is manifested in American religion. In their version of the American heartland, a good deal of decency prevails.

Unfortunately, Habits does not stop at this.
 

» Andere Autoren hinzufügen (17 möglich)

AutorennameRolleArt des AutorsWerk?Status
Robert N. BellahHauptautoralle Ausgabenberechnet
Madsen, RichardAutorCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Sullivan, William M.AutorCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Swidler, AnnAutorCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Tipton, Steven M.AutorCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
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First published in 1985, Habits of the Heart continues to be one of the most discussed interpretations of modern American society, a quest for a democratic community that draws on our diverse civic and religious traditions. In a new preface the authors relate the arguments of the book both to the current realities of American society and to the growing debate about the country's future. With this new edition one of the most influential books of recent times takes on a new immediacy.

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