A Dialogue on Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life

A Dialogue on
Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985, 1996, 2008
By Robert N. Bellah, Richard Madsen, William Sullivan, Ann Swidler, Steven M. Tipton
The Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, University of California, Santa Barbara
February 21, 1986
Part I “Transforming American Culture” Habits’ conclusion, chapter 11
Part II “Social Science as Public Philosophy” Habits’ appendix

In 1959, former Yale Law School Dean and University of Chicago President Robert M. Hutchins (1899-1977) founded The Center to approach the ideal of “a community of scholars” discussing a wide range of issues – individual freedom, international order, ecological imperatives, the rights of minorities and of women, and the nature of the good life, among others. The Center closed in 1987. The Center Magazine Editor Paul McDonald and Editorial Assistant Helen I. Wells edited and published a heavily edited version of the dialogue in two issues of the magazine: September/October 1986, Volume 19, Number 5, pp. 1-15; and November/December 1986, Volume 19, Number 6, pp. 18-23. Since the tensions among the participants in this dialogue are illuminating, even in 2013, and since The Center Magazine version is not easily accessible, Samuel C. Porter, Ph.D., transcribed audio tape recordings of the dialogue purchased from The Center in 1986. Porter also annotated and lightly edited the transcript for readability.

Donald J. McDonald, the Center’s Acting Director, moderated this dialogue.

  • Robert N. Bellah, University of California, Berkeley Ford Professor of Sociology and Comparative Studies
  • Noah benShea, Center Fellow, author, poet, philosopher, and a former dean at the University of California, Los Angeles
  • M. Gerald Bradford, Center Staff and University of California, Santa Barbara Religious Studies Department
  • Leon Bramson, National Endowment for the Humanities Senior Program Officer
  • Richard Flacks, University of California, Santa Barbara Professor of Sociology
  • Anthony Day, The Los Angeles Times Editorial Page Editor
  • Richard Fox, Professor of History and Humanities, Reed College
  • Nathan Gardels, The Institute for National Strategy Executive Director and New Perspectives Quarterly Editor
  • Sheila McCoy, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona History Professor and Liberal Studies Department Chair
  • Donald J. McDonald, Center Acting Director
  • Paul McDonald, The Center Magazine Editor
  • Herbert Morris, University of California, Los Angeles Dean of Humanities and Philosophy Professor
  • Stanley K. Sheinbaum, University of California Regent, Center Senior Fellow, New Perspectives Quarterly Publisher
  • Jeffrey D. Wallin, Center Program Director and University of California, Santa Barbara Political Science Department


Direct Link to Transcript

About S. R. Zelenz 119 Articles
S.R. Zelenz has worked in education for 20 years. Working with students from all walks of life, cultures, races, and social diversity, Zelenz’s research in Educational Leadership led to finding a better way to approach learning for students with trauma histories. Many were juvenile offenders, gang members, diagnosed with varying behavioral disorders, or had family histories of violence, murder, or narcissistic parenting. This research could not be effectively accomplished without further understanding: how epigenetic trauma inheritance may be impacting these students; how brain development from trauma may be impacting their behavioral and emotional development; as well as deep understanding of psychology and its varying classifications for behavioral and personality disorders. The goal is to find solutions for changing the conversation and making a real difference for these students. She has also worked with nonprofits of varying focus areas for the last 25 years. Her undergraduate degree in Arts Administration and Music prepared her for managing nonprofits of any size as well as procuring funding so that they can achieve their goals. Pairing her nonprofit background with her education background, she has been able to make a difference for over 200 nonprofits worldwide, written curriculum for schools across the globe, and assisted many arts organizations through performance and management.

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