Posts Tagged ‘Bellah’

Robert Bellah

The great scholar Robert N. Bellah, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at U.C. Berkeley and winner of the National Humanities Medal in 2000, died last week. (He was also a colleague and friend.) Bellah’s seminal contributions range from analyses of Japanese society to a recent, epoch-spanning book on the history of religion. For many, and for this blog, his contributions to understanding American culture, particularly the role of religion, are especially important.

Robert Bellah (1927-2013; source)

Robert Bellah (1927-2013; source)

Bellah (in my reading) argued that American culture was and has long been fatefully torn between a utilitarian impulse – what’s in it for me? – and a biblically-, prophetically-rooted, communal impulse – what is the common good? Spurning the Olympian distance of the social scientist and sometimes donning the cloak of a Jeremiah, Bellah evangelized for the communitarian American impulse.



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