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The Quest For Community: A Study In The Ethics Of Order And Freedom (Ics Series In Self Governance)

4.18  ·  Rating Details ·  165 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
"The Quest for Community" stands among the most important social critiques ever written. The first book by the man the New York Times calls "one of our most original social thinkers", Robert Nisbet's study explores how individualism and statism have flourished while the primary sources of human community - the family, neighborhoods, the church, and voluntary organizations ...more
Published by ICS Press (first published 1953)
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Mar 25, 2011 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A worthwhile read. While Nisbet's analysis can and should be challenged at points, his major point that individualism and Statism walk merrily together is needed.
Val Finnell, MD, MPH
Robert Nisbet
ISI Books, 2010 (originally published in 1953)
Reviewed by: Dr. Val W. Finnell
Originally published in Forward in Christ Vol 3. No. 5

Why does it seem that all forms of community are in decline in America, whether church, social club, or fraternal organization? We lament that there are so many “unchurched” people. Yet, we are often at a loss to explain how we arrived at this point in history. What were/are the factors that have contributed to the decline of community? In 1953, Robert N
Thomas Achord
Aug 23, 2016 Thomas Achord rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, politics, culture
"The argument of this book is that the single most decisive influence upon Western social organization has been the rise and development of the centralized territorial State. There is every reason to regard the State in history as, to use a phrase von Gierke applied to Rousseau’s doctrine of the General Will, ‘a process of permanent revolution/ The conflict between the central power of the political State and the whole set of functions and authorities contained in church, family, gild, and local ...more
Jun 28, 2015 Paula rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The premise of the book was certainly worth thinking about. His analysis of how democracy can lead to totalitarianism was insightful. Totalitarianism is caused by centering all power in the state, so that the "will of the people" becomes an excuse for abuse of freedoms. I fully concur with his conclusions about the need for intervening social groups or institutions between the people and the state (family, church, labor union, guild, benevolent society, etc.) to ensure freedom for the citizens. ...more
Adrian Colesberry
Apr 14, 2009 Adrian Colesberry rated it really liked it
The paperback I read was called Community and Power, but this was the only one I was able to add and was, I suppose, the original title. The thesis of this book was that leviathan-like governments, starting with the French Revolution, attempted to replace community with the comforts of an intrusive state, creating some kind of unmoored individual who could easily be controlled. Clearly, Nisbet wants us to reclaim community. In a way, he's seen as conservative, but at what point does this become ...more
Mar 11, 2015 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-politics
Nisbet, writing in 1953, provides a powerful framework for understanding the power of the state and its relation to civil society since the French Revolution: as the state has grown, it has reduced and often tried to replace the smaller, often local associations (churches, local communities, families, etc.). He tells the story well, though his chapter on totalitarianism needed more evidence and explanation.

The ISI edition also has a good introduction by Ross Douthat and the response of three oth
Chris J
Nov 24, 2013 Chris J rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Any attempt of mine at a "review" of this book would end in utter failure. I can only say that this book is fantastic - powerful and eye-opening. Nisbet traces the rise of centralized society in the western world out from its medieval past. The entire book is noteworthy but I found Chapter Six, in which he demonstrates in the philosophies of Bodin, Hobbes and Rosseau the continuing shift in societal philosophy from the 1500s-1700s especially fascinating.

It's a remarkable book that I just cannot
Apr 28, 2016 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sociology
This book may have been written decades ago, but it's still extraordinarily trenchant for today's conversations. It's a story of individualism and how that affects our view of large institutions (particularly government), and I think that Lisbet's argument helps bring a lot of clarity to the nature of public discourse today. It is well worth reading and I believes provides an unorthodox perspective to how we view society.
Jan 22, 2016 Ashley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a very long time to get through this book.
Oct 21, 2016 Peter rated it it was amazing
It's a thinker. One of my favorites.
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American sociologist, professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Vice-Chancellor at the University of California, Riverside and as the Albert Schweitzer Professor at Columbia University.
After serving in the US Army during World War II, when he was stationed on Saipan in the Pacific theatre, Nisbet founded the Department of Sociology at Berkeley, and was briefly Chairman. Nisbet left an e
More about Robert A. Nisbet...

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“In a highly popular statement, we are told that the family has progressed from institution to companionship. But, as Ortega y Gasset has written, “people do not live together merely to be together. They live together to do something together”. To suppose that the present family, or any other group, can perpetually vitalize itself through some indwelling affectional tie, in the absence of concrete, perceived functions, is like supposing that the comradely ties of mutual aid which grow up incidentally in a militar unit will along outlast a condition in which war is plainly and irrevocably banished . Applied to the family, the argument suggests that affection and personality cultivation can somehow exist in a social vacum, unsupported by the determining goals and ideals of economic and political society.” 5 likes
“Not the free individual but the lost individual; not Independence but isolation; not self-discovery but self-obsession; not the conquer but to be conquered; these are major states of mind in contemporary imaginative literature.” 5 likes
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