Habits Of The Heart By Robert N Bellah essay

Bellah, Robert was born in 1927. He was an American sociologist and educator. Educated at Harvard, he became a professor of Sociology at the University of California. Robert Bellah wrote several books on sociology of religion which of which The Broken Covenant written in 1975 won the Sorokin Award. Bellah is linked with new constructivists who argue that ordinary people use different cultural resources around them to construct meaning, resisting, or undermining various forms of social control. Review of the Book Habits of the Heart was written in 1985 and one of the best sellers written by Robert Bellah.

Robert has presented questions of commitment and individualism in this book. Robert has also presented a very striking opinion of being an American. This appearance of our nature begins with setting a significant contrast in colonial America, and placing a high amount of dependence on the assumptions of Alexis de Toqueville. The authors of the book have conveyed a strong message to the current custodians of the culture that is today’s people. They say that today’s people should hearken back to Old testimony lessons and Colonial thinking. This will toughen the ties with each other, to the nation we belong to and to the whole universe.

Being one but not as individuals but as a whole nation will takes us off the path of consensual dictatorship or nuclear termination. The authors brilliantly present the idea of separated individuality: American’s today are pursuing utilitarian ends with most of our energies, and a communicative individualism into our personal lives. Robert says that utilitarian individualism includes various behaviors like pursuing of work, professions or callings. People who support themselves or their families are motivated to Work. “Callings” are careers, which are chosen because of the natural value to themselves and the society.

People seeking material rewards, power, recognition and other ways of success pursue different careers. The research subject’s represents difference among all three of these types of employed persons; the conclusion is that America being unhealthy was mainly taken from the conversations with different career oriented professionals. In this book, Robert and his fellow writers discuss that the main aim of the government is the serve the people in the best way possible, and the government can only come good if the citizens develop a sense of private and social dependability.

People who have checks and huge bank balances are not important, as they do not guarantee the survival of freedom. “To suppose that my form of government will secure liberty and happiness without virtue in the people is a chimerical idea. ” (James Madison) This book Habits of the Heart argues whether the qualities, which are necessary for happiness and freedom, are being developed. Five different authors combine their knowledge of history, philosophy, sociology and religion to investigate the traditions of the American Middle class.

The title of the book is taken from Alexis de Tocqueville’s study, which is habits of the heart, the thoughts and principles of our society more than its laws, which preserves autonomous institution. The book authors find that what Americans think is Freedom and happiness has changed significantly over the past 200 years. Jefferson writes that Freedom is the ability to be a competitor in the government of affairs while happiness is consequent from the exercise of that freedom. Just like Liberty and Life, the search of happiness is not a right, which is to be enjoyed occasionally, but is an important part of the daily living.

Nowadays freedom is said to be a person’s ability to look for happiness that the person will enjoy when he is alone. The one thing, which disturbs the authors, is radical individualism, in which finding private happiness does not result in a person being happy or a lively republic. They set out to illustrate the incapacitating consequence of self-referential individualism and to support thoughts that will revive the principles of independence and dedication to the current 200 years ago. The authors think of a positive view of freedom. They think that biblical and republican traditions will help freedom to emerge in a positive way.

The authors have praised John Winthrop for imagining the “city upon the hill. ” He thinks that Puritan assets require that the person should work in among his community rather than retreating to another community like what Roger Williams did, into private clarity. They admire Jefferson for making a basic law rather than a law allowing slavery. “Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice can not sleep forever. ” (Thomas Jefferson) They praise Lincoln for his use of biblical descriptions to express his dream of the Nation.

Each and every one of these leaders knew how to disclose transcendence in political life. The language of therapy degrades habits of the Heart grieve that the rich language linked with biblical and republican ethnicity. The authors interviewed several individuals and rather than speaking the same language which can be reached to others, many individuals secure their conversations to the personal individuals self. In one such incidence, the authors ask a therapist if she is has a responsibility for people other than her own self and the answer she gives is No.

She says she has a responsibility for her children also. Tocqueville imagined the emergence of the private individual when he had a fear that the Americans soon will no longer be in contact with either their ancestors or their descendents. Logic of separation saturates even those foundations such as religion and politics, which are usually linked with producing an intellect of the universal good. Many people who were interviewed said that Religion is the thing, which helps them to discover who they truly are.

Church ethics offers lessening of personal pain, not the audacity to address unfairness in the society. Politics has become a tool for achieving special desires-high salary for teachers, or duty breaks for businesses. Whether they are liberals or conservative, people speak as though a calculus of private freedom can measure politics, the only difference being that the liberals think the government is the best ways to supply the necessary needs whereas the conservatives think the opposite. The main idea of the book is to change the inner ethical debate mostly shared with the inmates into a public discourse.

The authors have hoped that by demonstrating the emptiness in people lives will spur them to create a common alteration that will finally accomplish the promise of the civil rights movement and create a just society. The only drawback in the book is that the authors in drawing the portrait of people incoherent about their pledge to the public good, the authors fail to show how contribution in the public empire can be a cause of happiness. The movement they hope for will not appear from the picture of disappointed lives or the disgrace that unfairness is still persistent.

Instead, people who are willing to risk their present private comfort because they are excited by the promise of a greater public future will create it. Conclusion Only the concept of Social Ecology is valid in Robert’s argument to prove the case. As far as it means that we should be aware of the consistent attention of each other and of Earth. The vital ethics, which we need, is neither religious nor historic. It is to offer each other respect, to take responsibility for whatever the actions we do, for the natural environment and lastly for the decisions the officials tend to make.

Business should make full use of their influential authority to imagine a larger effort towards a common good. The way to make these sorts of changes is to write different material that will show the positive impact the people can have, to support participation and apprehension rather than distrust and vulnerable judgments.


• Habits of the Heart by Robert Bellah from Amazon books. Retrieved on March 13, 2007. From http://www. amazon. com/Habits-Heart-Individualism-Commitment-American/dp/0520205685