The Quest for Community  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Quest for Community: A Study in the Ethics of Order and Freedom (1953) is a book by Robert Nisbet. It claimed that modern social science's individualism denied an important human drive toward community as it left people without the aid of their fellows to combat the centralizing power of the nation-state. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat called it "arguably the 20th century's most important work of conservative sociology."

Nisbet challenged conventional sociological theories about progress and modernity, insisting on the negative consequences of the loss of traditional forms of community, a process that he believed was greatly accelerated by World War I.

According to British sociologist Daniel Chernilo, for Nisbet, "The sociological interest in the formation of modern society lies in whether and how it can re-invigorate forms of communal life and, if not, in understanding what will be the consequences of such failure." Nisbet, thus, "inverts what had been until then the mainstream proposition that society was more important, both historically and normatively, than community."

Chernilo also critically observed that Nisbet's "argument on the Great War [World War I] that marks the transition from community to society offers a one-sided view of the historical process as moving unequivocally towards a decaying condition."

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