Radical Communautarians

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Henry Tam – 20th July 2014:

The radical communitarians are a group of political thinkers who have argued for changes to socio-economic arrangements as well as the power relations that underpin them, so that a much more inclusive form of community life can prevail in every sphere of human interactions. Their common yardstick for assessing progress is whether people can relate to each other in mutually supportive and democratically cooperative ways in shaping their political governance, the enterprise in which they work, their living conditions and environment, and any organisation that may impact on their lives.

The four most representative figures are Robert Bellah, Jonathan Boswell, Philip Selznick, and Henry Tam."


The key works include:

  1. Bellah, R., et al. (1995). The Good Society. Vintage Books.
  2. Bellah, R. (1996). ‘Community Properly Understood’, in Responsive Community, Vol.6, issue 1, Winter 1995/96, pp.49-54.
  3. Bellah, R. & Sullivan, W. (2001), ‘Cultural Resources for a Progressive Alternative’ in Tam (2001).
  4. Boswell, J. (1990). Community and the Economy: the Theory of Public Co-operation. Routledge, London.
  5. Boswell, J. and Peters, J. (1997). Capitalism in Contention. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  6. Boswell, J. and Tam, H. (2013). ‘Communitarianism Revisited’: http://henry-tam.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/communitarianism-revisited.html
  7. Selznick, P. (1992). The Moral Commonwealth. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.
  8. Selznick, P. (2001). ‘A Quest for Community’, in Tam (2001).
  9. Selznick, P. (2002). The Communitarian Persuasion. Woodrow Wilson Center Press, Washington.
  10. Tam, H. (1995). 'Communitarianism & the Co-operative Movement', The Co-op Commonweal, Issue 2 1995.
  11. Tam, H. (1998). Communitarianism: a new agenda for politics and citizenship, Macmillan, Basingstoke.
  12. Tam, H. (ed.) (2001). Progressive Politics in the Global Age. Polity Press, Cambridge.
  13. Tam, H. (2011). ‘Rejuvenating Democracy: lessons from a communitarian experiment’, in Forum for promoting 3-19 comprehensive education, Volume 53, Number 3, 2011.

In addition to the above, two writers who have articulated views from a similar perspective but have eschewed the ‘communitarian’ label are Charles Derber and David Donnison. Their relevant writings include:

  1. Derber, C. (1994). ‘Communitarian Economics: criticisms and suggestions from the left’, in Responsive Community, Vol.4, Issue 4, Fall 1994, pp.29-42.
  2. Derber, C. (2000). Corporation Nation. St Martin’s Griffin, New York.
  3. Derber, C. (2001). ‘Corporate Power in the New Gilded Age’, in Tam (2001)
  4. Donnison, D (1991). A Radical Agenda: after the New Right and the Old Left. Rivers Oram Press, London.
  5. Donnison, D. (2001). ‘Rhetoric and Reality of a New Politics for the Global Age’, in Tam (2001).