Returning to Localism as a Return to the Self
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How to Cite

Returning to Localism as a Return to the Self: Robert Nisbet and the Recovery of Authority. (2019). The Political Science Reviewer, 42(2), 489-515.


Robert Nisbet’s concern with the intrusion of the modern state into the inner workings of associations was especially attuned to the fate of the local community. When the authority and functional value of local communities declined it created what Nisbet called the “loose individual.” This individual drifts “loose” from any firm commitment to any community, relating to his fellow individuals only through political citizenship and the “cash nexus” of the economy. Nisbet used the insights of Tocqueville and Rousseau to understand this individual as driven primarily by status anxiety, a need to fit in with a group or community of some sort. For Nisbet, a reintegration of “loose individual” into meaningful community will require the resuscitation of local communities.

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