How does Etzioni convey his communitarian agenda of putting the needs of the community first in The Spirit of Community?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Spirit of Community is a 1993 sociological work by Amitai Etzioni explaining the fundamentals of Communitarianism.

Etzioni explains:

...the community's standards reflect the relative priority accorded by members to some needs over others. Although individuals differ in their needs, human nature is not totally malleable. Although individuals are deeply influenced by their communities, they have a capacity for independent judgment.
(Etzioni, The Spirit of Community, Google Books)

His basic thesis is that individuals have vague and highly subjective needs based on their status in the community, while the community has needs that are specific and objective, relating to all it inhabitants. While a person may or may not have his needs met, this will have little-to-no impact on others. However, if a community's needs are not met, it might impact all its citizens adversely; individuals are therefore considered able to judge the importance of their personal needs relative to those of the community.