Robert Nisbet
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How to Cite

Robert Nisbet: Reappraisal of a Political Sociologist. (2019). The Political Science Reviewer, 42(2), 385-397.


Robert Alexander Nisbet was one of the most prominent sociologists and public commentators of the twentieth century, making significant contributions to the study of the history of sociology, political theory, and American intellectual conservatism. He read broadly and deeply, possessing an eclectic and incisive mind that drew from history, philosophy, and social science to offer intriguing scholarly analyses that did not come readily to either specialists or generalists. While Nisbet was a self-described philosophical conservative, his political views are difficult to categorize. Nisbet was close friends with Russell Kirk, the major figure in traditionalist American conservatism and ended his career as a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, but he also famously defended abortion rights and publicly attacked the foreign policy of President Ronald Reagan. He authored important textbooks on sociology, casting the discipline as an outgrowth of nineteenth century conservatism. Nisbet’s first book, The Quest for Community: A Study in the Ethics of Order and Freedom, came to be known as one of the founding books of the post-war conservative intellectual movement. Late in his career he offered a serious and concise appraisal of the intellectual history and meaning of conservatism in a slim volume titled Conservatism: Dream and Reality.

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