Communitarianism and Amitai Etzioni


Term Paper, 2003

14 Pages, Grade: 1,5


Excerpt

PLAN:

I. Introduction

II. The Life of Amitai Etzioni

III. The development of communitarism

IV. Socially constituted people

V. Limitations of privacy

VI. On a way to a “community of communities”

VII. Communitiarianism and education

VIII. Society's largest problem

Conclusion

Literature

People must feel they are part of something larger

than themselves – they must be willing to sacrifice for

the welfare of others and for society as a whole”,

- Amitai Etzioni

I. Introduction

Communitarianism is a movement, trying to shore up the foundations of social, moral, and political elements of society. Communitarism means maintaining of democratic civil society, created with an active spirit of solidarity. Communitarism gives political tasks back their moral challenge. There are three main agenda items in this movement: the embodiment of commonly held values in society's rituals, habits, and institutions, especially in schools and neighborhoods; the adjustment of balance between rights and responsibilities; and finally, political reforms, because the communitarians believe that special interests are out of line and the public interest is suffering[1].

The rights and responsibilities are tightly connected here with each other. The particularism[2] will be dissolved, because the moral standards of the communities are measured at the level of higher societies. Finaly is the communitarianism is about the development and moral concepts, which are universally acceptable. Communitarian values should be imposed not in a centralized way, but rather through the Dialogue between the societies: through imitation and takeover[3].

Amitai Etzioni is the founding father and leading voice of contemporary communitarianism. His goal is to catalyze a national moral revitalization and pserve civil society. Etzioni barely discusses communitarianism within its philosophical traditions, however his writings are pragmatic and aimed at an audience of activists and policy-makers rather than intellectuals. Etzioni wants to do for society ‘what the environmental movement seeks to do for nature’[4]. By Etzioni the traditional social orientation of the communitarian thinking is replaced by the responsive communitarianism: the rights of individuals are recognized equivalently to the requirements of communities.

II. The Life of Amitai Etzioni

Amitai Etzioni was born under the name Werner Falk in Cologne, Germany in 1929. In 1939 in order to escape the Nazi regime, he emigrated to Palestine and later studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Etzioni dropped out of university to fight in Israel's war for independence. He went on to earn his doctorate at Berkeley, USA. Since 1963 Amitai is an American citizen. From 1959 until 1961 he was an Assisting Professor at the Columbia University, where later he worked as Associate Professor and then as a Professor[5].

In the same period of time he taught at Harvard Business School and advised psidents. "As far back as I can remember, I wanted to make a mark on the world"[6], he writes. "A big one would be great, but a small improvement was a hell of a lot better than none." Since 1980 until today, Etzioni is a Professor at the George Washington University. He is known as a repsentative of a communitarian Liberalism. In 1993 Etzioni established "The Communitarian Network"[7], and is known as a Spokesperson of the politically active communitarian movement.

Today Etzioni is 74 years old. He spends a good part of his memoir outlining the many marks he has made. Influential communitarian academics, legal experts, sociologists and politicians (from Jimmy Carter to Bill Bennett) have embraced Etzioni's calls for sacrifice and a "moratorium on the minting of new rights"[8] so citizens can turn their attention to service.

Amitai Etzioni is one of the most influential social and political thinkers of our day, a man synonymous with the ideas of communitarianism. Etzioni challenges those who argue that diversity or multiculturalism is about to become the governing American creed. ‘On the surface, America may seem like a fractured mosaic, but the country is in reality far more socially monochromatic and united than most observers have claimed’[9].

III. The development of communitarism

The communitarian movement is an environmental movement, which is aimed to improve the moral, social and political environment. This movement is aimed to change the basic values, living habits and the political life towards communitarian ideals[10]. The way toward communitarian ideals should go through the open moral discourse and debates, as well as the development of integrative politics, which includes the interests of future generation. Therefore, the purpose of the communitarian movement is to create the ‘good society’ in the framework of modern society. This idea is more discussed in a book of Robert Bellah “The Good Society”.

Modern-day communitarianism began with the crisitcal reaction to John Rawls landmark 1971 book A Theory of Justice. Political philosophers such as MacIntyre, Sandel, Taylor and Walzer disputed Rawls statement that the mail duty of government is to ‘secure and distribute the liberties and economic resources individuals need to lead freely chosen lives’[11]. The above mentioned critics of liberal theory never identified themselves with the communitarian movement, they were rather named as communitarians later by others. However, some arguments contrast with liberalisms devaluation of community recur in the works of later mentioned theorists. Their claims may be classified into three types: ‘methodological claims about the importance of tradition and social context for moral and political reasoning, ontological or metaphysical claims about the social nature of the self, and normative claims about the value of community’[12].

During the historical development communitarianism has divided into philosophical and political. Amitai Etzioni as well as other social theorists like Charles Taylor, Alistair MacIntyre, Michael Sandel and Michael Walzer have spoke about these differences in the United States and in Britain.

[...]


[1] “On Transmitting Values: A Conversion with Amitai Etzioni”, - Volume 51 Number 3 November 1993, Educational Leadership

[2] http://www.cgl.uni-freiburg.de/commun/etzioni/etzioni.htm#ein

[3] Reese-Schäfer, Walter: Kommunitarismus, Frankfurt/M., New York 3., vollständig bearbeitete Auflage 2001, 111.

[4] “Etzioni’s responsive community”, Younkins W., Montreal, September 1, 2001 / No 87

[5] http://www.cgl.uni-freiburg.de/commun/etzioni/#bio

[6] http://civic.net/civic-values.archive/200305/msg00006.html

[7] http://www.gwu.edu/~ccps/index.html

[8] http://pup.princeton.edu/titles/7019.html

[9] Etzioni, A. ‘Monochrome Society’, Princeton University Press, Princeton 2001

[10] Etzioni, 1994, s.2

[11] http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/communitarianism/

[12] http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/communitarianism/

Excerpt out of 14 pages

Details

Title
Communitarianism and Amitai Etzioni
College
University of Hamburg
Grade
1,5
Author
Year
2003
Pages
14
Catalog Number
V43904
ISBN (eBook)
9783638415965
File size
528 KB
Language
English
Notes
Communitarianism is a movement, trying to shore up the foundations of social, moral, and political elements of society. Communitarism means maintaining of democratic civil society, created with an active spirit of solidarity. Communitarism gives political tasks back their moral challenge. There are three main agenda items in this movement: the embodiment of commonly held values in society's rituals, habits, and institutions, especially in schools and neighborhoods...
Tags
Communitarianism, Amitai, Etzioni
Quote paper
Yelena Russakova (Author), 2003, Communitarianism and Amitai Etzioni, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/43904

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