Democracy, Community and Change

opic: Democracy, Community and Change

Communitarianism, identified with major philosophers and social critics including Etzioni and Putnam, is a political and social philosophy interested in what communities are, how they work, and how to make them better. Sometimes conservative in outlook, it is often critical of what it perceives as the excessive individualism of Western culture, and the alleged neglect of community and the common good. Communitarianism offers a philosophical analysis and rationale for “communities (and moral dialogues within them), historically transmitted values and mores, and the societal units that transmit and enforce values such [as] the family, school, and voluntary associations (social clubs, churches, and so forth), which are all parts of communities” (Etzioni, p. 1).
[Etzioni explains his view of communitarianism in this short video: Etzioni on The Spirit of Community (6 minutes)].
• What is the future of democracy in an increasingly technological and decentralized network society? (see Street, chapter 12). What does democracy mean for a Generation Y whose experiences are increasingly defined online? Does the communitarian philosophy, and specifically, Putnam’s concept of social capital, have relevance to Generation Y*, who are often associated with mobility, change, and a lack of attachment to “community” in the traditional sense of that term? Why or why not?
* Gen Y is usually considered to be those born between 1982-2004. If you are not Generation Y, you may substitute your own generation and its experience here, or answer this from the perspective of a Generation Y person.

References: Social and Political Change

Street, John (2011). Chapter 6. Conglomerate Control: Media Moguls and Media Power. In Mass Media, Politics and Democracy. (2 nd ed.). New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 303-328.

Etzioni, A. (2003). Communitarianism. In K. Christensen and D. Levinson (eds), Encyclopedia of Community: From the Village to the Virtual World, Vol. 1 (pp. 224-228). Sage Publications, Inc.

Putnam, Robert (2001). Civic Disengagement in Contemporary America.. Government and Opposition, 36(2), 135-156.

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