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The Communitarian Persuasion

, 165 pages
March 2002



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The Communitarian Persuasion

The communitarian movement aims to balance the individual liberties prized by modernity with the health of the community in which those liberties are exercised. The movement arose in 1980s America–a society asserting, on the left, personal self-realization and, on the right, unrestrained capitalism and distrust of government, both sides assailing social institutions.

In The Communitarian Persuasion esteemed thinker Philip Selznick shows how the communitarian response to such pressures is not opposition but integration. "Communities have this remarkable feature: they build upon and are nourished by other unities, which are persons, groups, practices, and institutions. What we prize in community is not unity of any sort at any price, but unity that preserves the integrity of the parts."

Selznick situates communitarianism as a public philosophy and relates the communitarian project to key social and political questions raised by the recent transformations of modern life. He also reflects on the appropriate demands of the common good and on religious faith's contributions to community. Readers new to communitarian ideas and readers long acquainted with them will find The Communitarian Persuasion well worth their attention.

Philip Selznick is a professor of law and sociology, emeritus, at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. His books include The Moral Commonwealth: Social Theory and the Promise of Community and Leadership in Administration: A Sociological Interpretation.

"This is an important and timely book, written in a firm and clear and compelling voice. I predict that it will have a very wide readership and not merely in the United States."

"No one before has done so effective a job of presenting the distinctive features of the communitarian social philosophy. Not only does Selznick show how the communitarian 'persuasion' differs from those of liberals, conservatives, libertarians, and socialists, but he also makes the case that it has a coherence and consistency of its own."

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