Communitarianism

A communitarian political philosophy emerged in the US in the 1980s with Amitai Etzioni’s writings and emphasizing the importance of fostering a greater sense of personal and social responsibility among individual citizens and strengthening the cohesion of families and local communities.

Conservatives often favor the communitarianism of small communities that share a strong (usually traditional) moral code.  Thus some conservatives favor community above and beyond the commercial marketplace (see Nisbet).  For people on the left, there is resonance with communitarian views on the environment, and education for instance but not so much the focus on community traditions and norms.  In some respects communitarians are “centrist” in that they have elements of both right and left.

In fact, on both the left and right today there are people strongly valuing localism and community-based governance and initiative without seeming to be willing to acknowledge this commonality.   Asset-based community building, a growing approach to community organizing,  favors local wisdom and resources over outside experts.

 

Conversation Catalysts: 

Robert Nisbet’s The Quest for Community

Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies (George Washington University) https://icps.gwu.edu/about-us

Abundant Community (Peter Block and John McKnight)  http://www.abundantcommunity.com/home/peter_block_and_john_mcknight.html

Hands Across North Quabbin (Massachusetts) - https://handsacrossnorthquabbin.org/

 

Contributors: 

Michael Strong, Mary Jacksteit

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