The Monochrome Society

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Princeton University Press, 2003 - Social Science - 309 pages

Amitai Etzioni is one of the most influential social and political thinkers of our day, a man synonymous with the ideas of communitarianism. In this book, Etzioni challenges those who argue that diversity or multiculturalism is about to become the governing American creed. On the surface, America may seem like a fractured mosaic, but the country is in reality far more socially monochromatic and united than most observers have claimed.

In the first chapter, Etzioni presents a great deal of evidence that Americans, whites and African Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans, new immigrants and decedents of the Pilgrims, continue to share the same core of basic American values and aspirations.

He goes on to show that we need not merely a civil but also a good society, one that nurtures virtues. He assesses key social institutions that can serve such a society ranging from revived holidays to greater reliance on public shaming. The most effective sources of bonding and of shared ideas about virtue, he insists throughout, come from the community, not from the state.

Etzioni also challenges moral relativists who argue that we have no right to "impose" our moral values on other societies. He responds to those who fear that a cohesive community must also be one that is oppressive, authoritarian, and exclusive. And he explores and assesses possible new sources and definitions of community, including computer-mediated communities and stakeholding in corporations.

By turns provocative and reassuring, the chapters here cut to the heart of several of our most pressing social and political issues. The book is further evidence of Etzioni's enduring place in contemporary thought.


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A readable collection of essays that applies communitarian thinking to an array of issues, from multiculturalism and holidays to criminal justice and utopia.Etzioni (Sociology/George Washington Univ ... Read full review

The monochrome society

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Communitarian thinker Etzioni's (The Limits of Privacy) new collection of 13 essays centers on American social virtues and the elements underpinning these values. Disagreeing with the notion of a ... Read full review


The Monochrome Society
Is Shaming Shameful?
The PostAffluent Society
Can Virtual Communities Be Real?
Suffer the Children
Holidays The Neglected Seedbeds of Virtue
Salem without Witches
Social Norms The Rubicon of Social Science
Why the Civil Society Is Not Good Enough
Virtue and the State A Dialogue Between a Communitarian and a Social Conservative
Restoring the Moral Voice
CrossCultural Moral Judgments
Stakeholders versus Shareholders

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About the author (2003)

Amitai Etzioni is University Professor at The George Washington University. A past President of the American Sociological Association, he is the author of nineteen books, including The Moral Dimension (The Free Press), The Limits of Privacy (Basic Books), and The New Golden Rule (Basic Books), which won the Simon Wiesenthal Center's 1997 Tolerance Book Award. He was recently awarded the Sociological Practice Association's Outstanding Contribution Award and the Seventh James Wilbur Award for Extraordinary Contributions to the Appreciation and Advancement of Human Values.

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