The Communitarian Update
August 22, 2003
Tell us what you think!
A recent article in the New York Times on the blackout of 2003 discussed the vulnerability of the
“the grid” in great detail–in such specific detail that some readers claimed the article was like a
textbook for terrorists. The newspaper might well respond that the article is meant to spur public
debate about the future of the grid, and that vigorous public debate will help get the problems
fixed. However, could journalists achieve the purpose of fueling public debate without disclosing
all those details? Can one be more sensitive to the common good–and still have a free press?
Please respond briefly and tell us how to identify you. We do not run anonymous responses
because we hold that true identities make for better dialogues. Please also provide some details,
if not your affiliation, at least your town and nation, to help us understand your perspective. The
article mentioned above is available at
Featuring Charles Taylor
The next issue of The Responsive Community will feature an article by renowned communitarian
philosopher Charles Taylor on the topic “No Community–No Democracy.” Reserve your copy
now! E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call either 800-245-7460 or 202-994-4355. Ordering
information is also available online at http://www.gwu.edu/~ccps/rcq/rcq_order.html.
“The Next Four Years: A Social Agenda”
A roundtable discussion at the 99th Annual Meeting of the American Political Science
Association, Thursday, August 28, ‘03, 10:00 a.m.
Governor James McGreevey of New Jersey will speak on the issues and challenges faced by the
nation as we approach the next presidential election. The following persons will comment:
Lawrence R. Jacobs (University of Minnesota), Ronald W. Waters (University of Maryland),
Rodolfo O. de la Garza (Columbia University), Lawrence W. Mead (New York University), and
H.W. Jerome Maddox (University of Pennsylvania). Amitai Etzioni of The George Washington
University, who organized the session, will serve as a chair. This is the first session organized by
the Communitarian Network as an allied organization of the American Political Science
Association. The meeting will be held at the Philadelphia Marriott, in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania. For more information please visit the APSA website at www.apsanet.org.
News of Interest
Study: Social Norms Marketing Doesn’t Reduce Teen Drinking
Advertising campaigns that encourage teenagers to drink in moderation–rather than discouraging
or prohibiting alcohol use in general–don’t work. Such campaigns, or “social norms marketing,”
use posters, brochures, t-shirts, and other promotional materials to try to convince high school
and college students that most of their peers drink relatively little–that drinking in moderation is
cool. But students who were exposed to such marketing campaigns between 1997 and 2001 did
not exhibit a statistically significant decrease in alcohol consumption, according to a recent
Harvard School of Public Health study. The study also found that students at schools with social
norms marketing engaged in binge drinking at least as frequently as students at schools without
the campaigns. In 1997, before the beginning of the study, 45.9% of students at the schools with
social norms marketing reported binge drinking vs. 40.4% of students at schools without the
campaigns. In 2001, 48.6% of students exposed to social norms marketing reported binge
drinking, as did 41% of the students who had not been exposed to the campaigns. The
researchers surveyed students at 37 schools with social norms marketing campaigns and 61
schools without (Journal of Studies on Alcohol, July ‘03). Read the study at
Day Care’s Negative Effects on Childhood Development
Time spent in day care during a child’s early years correlates with higher levels of aggression,
disobedience, and conflict with adults later in life, according to a recent study by the National
Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The study found that the more time
children spent in day care before they were 4 1/2 years old, the more negative effects were
manifested at this age and in kindergarten. However, the study authors also noted that one of the
most important predictors of how well a child will behave is maternal sensitivity–the mother’s
awareness of and responsiveness to a child’s wants and needs. The study was published in
July/August issue of Child Development. Read more at
http://www.nichd.nih.gov/new/releases/child_care.cfm. (Wall Street Journal, 7/16/03; NICHD
news release, 7/16/03).
Poll: Americans favor a diplomatic approach with Iran
Despite acknowledgment that Iran presents some threat to the United States, 69% of Americans
believe the U.S. should not go to war to overthrow the government of Iran, according to a recent
poll. 74% of respondents said the U.S. should deal with the government of Iran diplomatically,
by “trying to build better relations.” Only 21% favored “pressuring [the Iranian government] with
implied threats that the U.S. may use military force against it.” Americans also favor a
multilateral approach. 62% said that the UN should take the lead in “trying to make sure that Iran
does not make nuclear weapons and does not support Palestinian groups that use terrorism.” 32%
favored a U.S.-led effort. Most people–66%–believe that Iran is a threat, but a containable one.
Only 9% agreed that “Iran is a threat. . . that requires military action now,” and 18% said it
wasn’t a threat at all. View results and analysis at www.pipa.org. (PIPA/Knowledge Networks
poll, July 11-20, ‘03)
The FCC’s Communitarian Side?
This week, FCC Chairman Michael Powell announced the formation of a new task force to
promote localism in broadcasting. The intense criticism that followed the FCC’s weakening of
media ownership regulations in June seems to have had an effect. “We have heard the public
concern about the media loud and clear,” Powell announced. “Localism is at the core of these
concerns, and we are going to tackle it head on.” The localism task force’s first meeting will be
held in September (Associated Press, 8/20/03). For further discussion see
Publications of Interest
My Baby’s Father: Unmarried Parents and Paternal Responsibility by Maureen R. Waller
(Cornell University Press, ‘02)
Draws on interviews with unmarried parents whose children receive welfare to examine several
issues, including: methods used by low-income parents to define a father’s obligation to his
children and explain paternal irresponsibility; negotiation of private arrangements of paternal
acknowledgment and support; and the interaction of these informal practices with mandatory
welfare and child-support regulations. To purchase the book, visit
The State of Our Unions 2003: The Social Health of Marriage in America (The National
Marriage Project, June ‘03)
Surveys trends in social indicators of marital health and well-being over the last four decades.
Issues examined include marriage, divorce, unmarried children, loss of child centeredness, fragile
families with children, and teen attitudes about marriage and family. Project co-directed by
Barbara Dafoe Whitehead and David Popenoe. Available at
The Encyclopedia of Community: From the Village to the Virtual World by David Levinson, ed.
Karen Christensen (Sage Publications, June ‘03)
Four-volume set surveys communities past and present, from 19th century utopian projects to
21st century cyber communities. Also offers information on successful community institutions,
such as public libraries, and explains related academic terms. The encyclopedia is meant to serve
as a resource for both the general public and students in disciplines such as history, sociology,
psychology, anthropology, economics, and public administration. Ordering information at
Articles of Interest
“Personal Responsibility: Does It Require Personal Sacrifice?” by Cheyney Ryan, Current, June
Explores the question of why Americans so often support wars but are not willing to make the
sacrifices wars require. Article originally appeared in Winter ’02/’03 issue of The Responsive
Community. Read article at http://www.gwu.edu/~ccps/rcq/Ryan.pdf.
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