The Search for Political Community: American Activists Reinventing Commitment (Cambridge Cultural Social Studies)

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9780521483438: The Search for Political Community: American Activists Reinventing Commitment (Cambridge Cultural Social Studies)
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This book challenges the myth that Americans' emphasis on personal fulfilment necessarily weakens commitment to the common good. Drawing on extensive participant-observation with a variety of environmentalist groups, Paul Lichterman argues that individualism sometimes enhances public, political commitment and that a shared respect for individual inspiration enables activists with diverse political backgrounds to work together. This personalised culture of commitment has sustained activists working long-term for social change. The book contrasts 'personalised politics' in mainly white environmental groups with a more traditional, community-centred culture of commitment in an African-American group. The untraditional, personalised politics of many recent social movements invites us to rethink common understandings of commitment, community, and individualism in a post-traditional world.

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Review:

"The Search for Political Community is theoretically stimulating.... both wide-ranging and synthetic....This book does more than merely draw upon new social movement theory and social science writings on the culture of modernity to analyze the environmental movement. Lichterman uses this movement for the purpose of developing fresh conceptual tools that help us to understand the new repertoires of collective action dotting the Americna political landscape." Verta Taylor, Mobilization

"The Search for Political Community represents participant observation at its best: thoughtful, lucid, and always challenging." Todd Gitlin, New York University

"...this work will interest specialists in communitariansim, activism, and perhaps environmenatl poilitics." J. Heyrman, Choice

"This is a provocative book....The controversial nature of the well-researched, well-argued thesis is in fact a strength....I certainly recommend this book to scholars interested in the future of the environmental movements generally." Eric L. HIrsch, Contemporary Sociology

"The mark of fine scholarship is its being able to say something new and significant and, in so doing, stimulate important future research agendas. Paul Lichterman has succeeded on both of these fronts." Ira Silver, American Journal of Sociology

"Paul Lichterman's book is a good example of how social science knowledge can inform community practice." James Midgley, Social Science Review

Book Description:

This book challenges the myth that individualism necessarily weakens commitments to the common good. Examining environmental and other activist groups in which individualism enhances political commitment, it invites us to rethink understandings of commitment, community, and individualism in a post-traditional world.

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9780521482868: The Search for Political Community: American Activists Reinventing Commitment (Cambridge Cultural Social Studies)

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