The Spirit of Community: Rights, Responsibilities and the Communitarian Agenda

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9780006863595: The Spirit of Community: Rights, Responsibilities and the Communitarian Agenda

Acclaimed author and visionary social thinker Amitai Etzioni calls for a new balance between rights and responsibilities and a reawakened allegiance to the communities and institutions that sustain us. Etzioni shows how today's Americans can work to rebuild the family, cultivate tolerance, encourage character education in schools, and above all, strengthen communities. 8 charts.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A primer on how to move from the ``me generation'' (castigated by Etzioni in An Immodest Agenda, 1982) to the ``we generation.'' The text doubles as a manifesto for the Communitarian movement, which Etzioni helped found in 1991 and which he heavily promotes here as an antidote to many of the ills of the permissive 70's and 80's. Etzioni (Sociology/George Washington University) defines ``communitarianism'' as an ``environmental movement dedicated to the betterment of our moral, social and political environment.'' We can, he says, reverse the breakdown of the family, rising crime rates, deteriorating schools, and political corruption by restoring those communities (family, neighborhood, professional, etc.) that uphold strong moral values--even if these values clash with the individual rights extolled by civil libertarians. Etzioni does a lot of fancy footwork to avoid charges of authoritarianism, insisting that we can ``shore up'' our values and institutions without becoming a church-dominated or right-wing society. Among his targets are ``no fault'' divorce, since it allegedly sanctions divorce and leads to one-parent families; the insatiable pursuit of careers that conflict with parenting and community service; and special-interest groups that get in the way of effective government. Throughout, Etzioni lards his argument with show- stopping rubrics (such as ``McDonald's is Not Our Kind of Place,'' which means that teens working in fast-food restaurants are trained to become robots and senseless consumers). A lively polemic that highlights some important issues for the 90's and that seems more or less in step with the beliefs of the man at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

Etzioni, who has acquired an international reputation for his advocacy of the "communitarian" point of view, defines communitarianism as a movement designed to "bring about the changes in values, habits, and public policies that will allow us to do for society what the environmental movement seeks to do for nature: to safeguard and enhance our future." In this book, he sets forth an agenda for correcting the "imbalance" between rights and responsibilities in American society. His agenda is focused in particular on rebuilding families and schools to instill in our citizens a sense of responsibility to the interests of the community as a whole. While many of Etzioni's recommendations are grounded in common sense, his book fails to grapple with the many important philosophical issues raised by his dual critique of liberalism and conservatism. A more satisfying study from a similar perspective is Philip Selznick's The Moral Commonwealth ( LJ 10/1/92). Recommended for larger libraries.
- Kent Worcester, Social Science Research Council, New York
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Amitai Etzioni
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Etzioni, Amitai
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