Robert Nisbet (1913-1996) was a professor of sociology at Columbia University and authored numerous books, including Quest for Community, Conservatism: Dream and Reality, The Present Age, and Twilight of Authority.

The Urban Crisis Revisited

By |2017-03-07T15:41:34-06:00February 8th, 2017|Categories: Books, Civil Society, Featured, Robert Nisbet, Social Institutions, The Imaginative Conservative|

Given the nature of our politically-driven, morality-obsessed middle class society, and its passion for direct action, it follows that the more persons there are who are dedicated to solving problems, the more problems there have to be… The Unheavenly City by Edward C. Banfield (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1970) Once in a great while [...]

The Conservative Reformation

By |2016-10-10T14:45:27-05:00September 16th, 2016|Categories: Agrarianism, Conservatism, Featured, George Nash, Robert Nisbet, Russell Kirk|

Two decades ago, George Nash, in his The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945,[1] told the story of how American conservatism was forged rather uneasily as a political movement from three intellectual groupings: traditionalists, lib­ertarians, and anti-communists. Today on the conventional “Right,” however, we find many libertarians who argue as vigorously against the opponents [...]

The Death of Community?

By |2019-10-23T12:44:29-05:00August 19th, 2016|Categories: Community, Culture, Robert Nisbet|

In the 1950s, Robert Nisbet summarized the effects of nineteenth-century individualism on modern humans in the book The Quest for Community: “[Nineteenth-century] individualism has resulted in masses of normless, unattached, insecure individuals who lose even the capacity for independent, creative living.” His brutally honest assessment is only more true today; our public universities are [...]

Still Questing for Community

By |2019-06-06T18:33:25-05:00April 11th, 2016|Categories: Books, Community, Essential, Featured, Robert Nisbet, The Conservative Mind, Timeless Essays|

Today’s offering in our Timeless Essay series affords readers the opportunity to join Robert Nisbet as he reflects on his landmark book, The Quest for Community. —W. Winston Elliott III, Publisher In the retrospect of forty years I can see my book, The Quest for Community (first published by Oxford University Press in 1953), as one of [...]

The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama

By |2015-04-15T06:41:46-05:00April 11th, 2015|Categories: Community, Conservatism, Featured, Modernity, Robert Nisbet|Tags: |

Today’s political debates often set up a simple tension: the individual versus government. Certainly individual liberty and limited government are fundamental principles of a free society, but such a polarized perspective overlooks the ways we actually live our lives—in families, as part of neighborhoods, in church communities, in civic groups, and so on. In [...]

The Case for “Serfdom,” Rightly Understood

By |2014-04-26T16:50:26-05:00April 26th, 2014|Categories: Conservatism, Robert Nisbet|Tags: , |

Last Saturday I had the honor of addressing the 50th anniversary meeting of the Philadelphia Society. The title of the meeting was “The Road Ahead—Serfdom or Liberty?” My remarks sought to suggest that conservatives should be more circumspect about their rote incantation of the word “liberty,” and that there may even be something to [...]

Robert Nisbet & The Quest for Community

By |2015-04-28T08:40:30-05:00March 9th, 2013|Categories: Books, Community, Conservatism, Robert Nisbet, TIC Featured Book|Tags: |

Featured Book: The Quest For Community, by Robert Nisbet, ranks high among the foundational works of post-war American conservatism. In it, Nisbet argued that the emergence of the “centralized territorial State” in the wake of the Middle Ages decisively impacted Western social organization. Nisbet was particularly sensitive to the rise of the “national community,” the total [...]

A Tale of Two Cités: Mediating Associations

By |2013-11-21T14:40:35-06:00January 23rd, 2013|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, Barack Obama, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Politics, Robert Nisbet|Tags: , |

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. But what is “best” for some is “worst” for others, and vice-versa. Monday, President Obama was sworn in for his second term. This event was a “best” for his stalwart supporters, such as Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, and is a sign of [...]

Still Questing for Community

By |2019-09-10T17:04:54-05:00September 26th, 2012|Categories: Books, Community, Conservatism, Robert Nisbet, Russell Kirk|Tags: |

In the retrospect of forty years I can see my book, The Quest for Community (first published by Oxford University Press in 1953), as one of the harbingers of what would become by the end of the 1950s a full-fledged renascence of conservatism. There had been authentic and forthright individual conservatives before the 50s; [...]

The War on Terror and the Quest for Community

By |2014-01-16T22:24:46-06:00September 2nd, 2012|Categories: Community, Conservatism, Foreign Affairs, Politics, Robert Nisbet, War|Tags: |

There will be ample disputation at this week’s and next’s presidential nominating conventions, but one point is virtually sure to unite them: a rhetorical commitment to the “War on Terror” and, particularly, to the troops fighting it. Already, Paul Ryan has offered up the obligatory salute to the troops who have “defended our freedom”—which [...]

The Effects of War on Education in the Writings of Russell Kirk and Robert Nisbet

By |2015-04-28T01:30:51-05:00August 13th, 2012|Categories: Education, Glenn Davis, Robert Nisbet, Russell Kirk, War|Tags: |

This is part 2 of this essay, for part 1 click here. Glenn Davis According to Nisbet, warfare seduces largely because acts of war demand certain qualities of character from its participants which the community values: valor, heroism, courage, and sacrifice. Individuals who are given the opportunity to manifest these moral qualities, [...]

Conservatives and Libertarians: Uneasy Cousins

By |2018-11-09T13:02:13-06:00July 15th, 2012|Categories: Conservatism, Edmund Burke, John Stuart Mill, Libertarians, Robert Nisbet|Tags: |

By common assent modern conservatism, as political philosophy, springs from Edmund Burke: chiefly from his Reflections on the Revolution in France, published in 1790. That book is of course more than a brilliantly prescient analysis of the Revolution and its new and fateful modes of power over individual lives; the Reflections is also, through its [...]

Robert Nisbet and the Idea of Community

By |2015-04-07T16:54:35-05:00August 3rd, 2011|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, Community, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Robert Nisbet|Tags: |

Robert Nisbet Unlike Max Weber or Emile Durkheim, Robert A. Nisbet has not produced a remarkably original theory that has shaken the sociological world or revolutionized its concepts and methods of analysis. What Nisbet has done over the period of a long career in American sociology is to act as a consistent, [...]