Habits of the Heart


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

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.

Habits of the Heart - Ignatian Spirituality

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. 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.

Remains one of my favorites; really sharp analysis of American life and individualism. Aug 13, Thadeus rated it it was amazing Shelves: com-library , returned , philosophy , sociology. This book gives you some vocabulary to think and talk about the state of the American society. I found it very thoughtful and stimulating. 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. 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.

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Habits of My Heart

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.

I found that very depressing.

Each Habit of Heart

Sociological study This was a class assignment, and the sociology in the book is quite the turn-off. It is dryly written and unengaging, for the layman. It provides the reader with analysis of all of America's problems in regards to individualism, but offers no solutions - highly frustrating.

Jun 10, Perrin rated it liked it. This is a good book, but it is an old book. It is very insightful for , unfortunately I think that society has changed quite a bit since then. I'm not saying that their findings are contradicted, but rather complicated, by more recent shifts. Feb 28, Kristina rated it did not like it. I could not get through this book. The whining, self-centeredness, and limited scope of types of people included made the generalizations impossible to stomach.

It is probably best loved by children of the 60s, or people who spend their time trying to "find themselves. Since I do go to a Catholic university I thought it was appropriate for my school and he actually came to my school and spoke to our community about religion and other topics in sociology. Dec 14, Seth rated it it was amazing. I skimmed this book and referenced it heavily for an undergraduate research project.

The book was given to me and is signed and endorsed to me by my academic advisor. I have long been plagued by guilt for never actually reading it cover to cover. Now I have. Sep 23, Nick rated it really liked it Shelves: reads. This is pretty dense book to read, almost as bad as a textbook. But worth it.

Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life

I loved the ideas about community and the way the authors talked about American values such as independence and how people validate their idea of service. If you can stay with it to the end, this book is worth reading.

3 Habits of a Healthy Heart - Pastor Steven Furtick

Feb 23, Raina rated it really liked it. I totally didn't read the conclusion but I was done in the way that mattered this was actually not bad but I realize the only chapters that held my interest were the ones about failing marrige, therapy, and religion so idk. Timeless work, really. Be the first to discover new talent! Each week, our editors select the one author and one book they believe to be most worthy of your attention and highlight them in our Pro Connect email alert.

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By clicking on "Submit" you agree that you have read and agree to the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. Email Newsletter. Log In. Toggle navigation MENU. Email Address. Email address:. He defined it as "a calm and considered feeling which disposes each citizen to isolate himself from the mass of his fellows and withdraw into the circle of family and friends; with this little society formed to his taste, he gladly leaves the greater society to look after itself.

Habits of the Heart sets out to identify "what resources Americans have for making sense of their lives, how they think about themselves and their society, and how their ideas relate to their actions.


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  • From to , the authors interviewed white middle-class Americans, trying to ascertain how these individuals found meaning in the private and public dimensions of their lives. Special attention was paid to their understandings of the meaning of freedom, the nature of success, and the requirements of justice in the modern context. Following a rich sociological tradition, the authors then delineate four representative character types: the independent citizen, the entrepreneur, the manager, and the therapist. All wrestle with individualism expressed in two modes: the utilitarian and the expressive.

    Beginning with his section on "Private Life," Bellah and his associates reflect upon the means by which Americans fashion independent and autonomous selves. The first step of "finding oneself" is to separate from family by leaving home.

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