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Etzioni, Amitai

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ISBN 10: 0691070903 / ISBN 13: 9780691070902
Published by Princeton University Press, New York, 2001
From Rare Book Cellar (Pomona, NY, U.S.A.)

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Very Good in a Very Good dust jacket. Boards are slightly bowed. ; 9.50 X 6.46 X 1.07 inches; 272 pages; All domestic orders shipped protected in a Box. Bookseller Inventory # 73037

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Bibliographic Details


Publisher: Princeton University Press, New York

Publication Date: 2001

Binding: Hardcover

Edition: First Edition; First Printing.

About this title


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.


Is America still a melting pot? Amitai Etzioni thinks so. Grappling with campus identity politics and burgeoning numbers of racial minorities, The Monochrome Society makes a case for Americans' basic sameness. Our differences are mostly skin-deep, Etzioni contends, and America's multihued skin belies its essentially monochromatic beliefs. He writes: "America is blessed with an economic and political system as well as culture and core values and much else that, while far from flawless, is embraced by most Americans of all races and ethnic groups." Society is not hopelessly fragmented; today's commonalities hold the key to tomorrow's problems.

Etzioni is one of the leading advocates of communitarianism, a school of thought that argues that moral problems are best addressed with reference to community, to shared ideals, and to tradition. Not content with the aeries of theory, Etzioni takes up a number of controversial public policy questions in The Monochrome Society, such as public shaming, Internet filters for children, and virtual communities. His conclusions are sometimes uncomfortable, but his arguments are well stocked with empirical evidence and engaging conversation with the best thinkers in academia and politics. --Eric de Place

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