Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Communitarianism is a social philosophy that builds on the assumption that the good should be defined socially. This core assumption is in sharp contrast with liberalism, which assumes that each person ought to determine the good individually. Communitarianism stresses that individuals are socially “embedded” rather than free agents, that people have social responsibilities to each other, to their communities, and to the common good. Although communitarianism is a small philosophical school, it has a measure of influence on public dialogues and politics, especially as an antidote to the laissez-faire conservatism championed by Margaret Thatcher in Britain and Ronald Reagan in the United States. President Barack Obama gave voice to communitarian ideas and ideals in his book The Audacity of Hope and repeatedly during the 2008 presidential election campaign, calling on his fellow citizens to “ground our politics in the notion of a common good” (2006, p. 9), for an communitarian ...