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Conference Proceeding

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In American culture historically and at present, there is a strong tension between "rugged individualism" and commitment to community-mindedness. University of California professor of sociology Robert Bellah et al. (1985) have analyzed this tension in its roots and ramifications from political, literary, philosophical, theological, psychological, and sociological perspectives in their seminal work Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life. Building upon the findings and perspectives they wrote about in Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life, Bellah et al. (1991) proposed in their sequel entitled The Good Society what they felt were necessary changes and reforms in the major institutions of American life and culture . . . so that Americans could make better progress in all sectors of society, including schooling at both pre-college and at postsecondary levels. Professor Bellah and his colleagues concluded and recommended that Americans both out of school and in school should commit themselves to a stronger vision of community-mindedness and to a greater commitment to volunteerism. Some critics of American culture have more recently decried the systematic loss, over the last two or three decades, of what is termed Social Capital in America [i.e., civic involvement and concern]. Robert D. Putnam (1995) has noted trends which have contributed to the decline and has expounded upon ideas, actions, and further research that may counter this trend.


A Paper Presented at the Washington State University College of Education-Nishinomiya, JAPAN, School District Seminar.