Sociology Faculty and Staff Publications


Richard L. Wood

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"Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life" clearly mattered when it was published in 1985: One of only a handful of truly sociological books on the New York Times' list of bestsellers in recent decades, it was widely discussed in congregations, book groups, and classrooms throughout the country. But how might it matter today? Does it carry lasting significance twenty-plus years after publication, or stand as an important but dated commentary on the excesses of 1980s individualism?

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For a twentieth anniversary special edition of Sociology of Religion edited by David Yamane, 2006

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Social science


This article was first given as a paper at the 2005 Annual Meeting of the Association for the Sociology of Religion, at a session on Habits of the Heart: Twenty Years Later organized and convened by Dr. David Yamane, now of Wake Forest University. My thanks to him and to the other panelists Kelly Besecke, Wendy Cadge, and Robert Zussman.