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Steven M. Books Digital Products Journals. Disciplines Sociology Social Problems. About the Book First published in , 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. As a non-religious individual interested in ethics and morality, this book proved a valuable addition to my collection. One of those rare examples of academic writing that escaped to the hoi polloi.

The title comes from a phrase used by Tocqueville in his observations of American culture. Bellah, et al. If you can persevere through the ground-laying first chapter, it's a good read and well worth the time.

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Jun 16, Jonathan rated it really liked it Shelves: contemporary-america , assigned-to-shane , contemporary-philosophy. The gist: Individualism whether economic or spiritual cannot provide meaning, however worthy the freedom it offers may be.

Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life

Nor can the weak forms of association found in "lifestyle enclaves," inhabited as they are only by similar people who join seeking personal fulfillment. A meaningful life can only be lived in a community, sustained by tradition and by service to others. Jan 13, Nadya rated it did not like it.

Bellah et al are primarily concerned with discussing the inevitable overlap of private and public life in American society. Bellah uses case studies to demonstrate his point, but his conclusions are not justified by his method. As mentioned, Bellah limits his sample population to white middle-class Americans..

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Though impeccably dense, this at times reads like a self help book. I would not have finished the book had it not been a required reading for one of my graduate seminars. I am surprised it has such a high rating. Sep 22, Margaret Sankey rated it liked it. Nov 19, John Henry rated it really liked it Shelves: my-library. To become a missional community in our culture, we need this instruction from a cultural anthropologist's view.

This book outlines how Americans are living as products of their surrounding culture. It helps us see the forest through the trees. Thought-provoking read! Our participation in civic life is declining across the board, income inequality's soaring, and free-market solutions aren't cutting it. What we need, according to the authors, is a revival of solidarity and communal spirit.

This doesn't negate individualism; rather, citizens should recognize something greater. The authors cite "Biblical r Thought-provoking read! The authors cite "Biblical religion" derived from the Puritans and "civic republicanism" derived from Jefferson as good starting points, for religion and republicanism offer a moral foundational, connecting the individual to other people and recognizing their shared dignity.

Yes, Bellah et.

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Yet I respect the fact that Bellah et. The authors' central claim, that a society needs a shared foundation, is persuasive. The authors' discussion of an ascendant individualism, which is then used to justify everything from foolhardy tax cuts to welfare reductions to class divisions, is disturbing. Many of the interviews whiz by with the pithy quotes and aw-shucks moralizing of vintage Newsweek articles. The book's interview sample has serious structural problems, notably its complete omission of the Midwest, South, and the parts of the West that aren't California, and its focus on white Americans to the exclusion of people of color.

Bellah and his collaborators acknowledge there are social groups they didn't study, but they don't give a persuasive rationale for omitting people of color. The fact is, there is no rationale for omitting minorities from a study of American civic life. At least the authors believe that white flight and residential segregation are some of the worst embodiments of individualism. So: Read with several grains of salt, and keep searching for a strong historical explanation of the transition from a proto-industrial 19th-century culture to a consumer-oriented 20th-century culture.

Bellah and his team still point out the dangers of individualism in public life. I am intrigued. More and more lately, I find myself questioning my lifelong premise that there is a particular purpose for my life, and that it is my duty to discover and fulfill that purpose. One may even be hard pressed to prove conclusively that there is any particular purpose, at all, to our individual lives. It may be that my life has whatever purpose and meaning I choose to assign to it. I'm not particularly comforted by that, but now that I have made it through the Preface to the Edi I am intrigued.

I'm not particularly comforted by that, but now that I have made it through the Preface to the Edition, and the Preface to the Edition, and the Preface to the First Edition, and 8 little pages into the first chapter, I read "American cultural traditions define Oct 25, Michael rated it really liked it. This is an exceptional sociological examination of American society. The authors use Democracy in America as an interpretive horizon for the evolution of American Society in the late 20th century.

Where de- Tocqueville's America was politically and socially engaged, the socio-economic factors that have emerged in the last 40 years have worked to undermine communal opportunity. The authors provide a nice balance between case studies and social science.

Jaymes Young - Habits of My Heart (BENTZ Remix)

An exceptional read. Enlightening and shocking and overwhelming. One gets every indication this is a sociological masterpiece.

Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life

The opposite of a 'light summer read', yet spending the summer underlining, circling, and contemplating the sentences in this book was as demanding as it was satisfying. There is too much to summarize here, but one day, maybe. Apr 01, John Wise rated it it was amazing Shelves: education , culture. Next to De Tocqueville, an excellent work on American culture. The Appendix contains an extremely helpful explanation of the difference between research universities and traditional colleges.

Research universities have increased the material prosperity of America, but have impoverished America culturally. Remains one of my favorites; really sharp analysis of American life and individualism. Jun 29, Ken rated it it was amazing. Every American should read this book. It perfectly explains why our society has reached the current fractious, even destructive point it has.

Apr 15, Trinity rated it it was ok. I had to read this book for one of my classes, so I had to slog my way through it. The premise of the study, an attempt to reconcile American individualism with a need to connect to a community was interesting. I actually learned a lot about the human experience in America and the roles that religion, therapy, and politics play in creating a cohesive community. I found the ideas that were presented to be interesting, but the writing was why I gave this book two stars. The writing was dry, and th I had to read this book for one of my classes, so I had to slog my way through it.

The writing was dry, and the book was overly repetitive.

Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life

The authors were constantly referring to earlier chapters in the book and restating their argument again and again but adding very little new information. I often found myself nodding off because I was not mentally engaged in the topic. You have to sift through all the repetition to get to their meaning, so if you like a tedious game of find the point of this section then I would recommend this book to you. Otherwise, I would say skip it, and if you have to read it for a class good luck and perhaps try reading it while you are standing! Aug 14, John P.

It really blew my mind, in a good way. Apr 24, Meen rated it really liked it Shelves: theory-philosophy-law , own-it , social-science , religion-spirituality-atheism. This book was part of a Sociology of Culture graduate class. I am an atheist and generally tend to loathe how religion separates us from one another, and the message that I got from this book was that religion is a wonderful thing that is necessary to hold society together.

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