A COMMUNITARIAN POSITION PAPER
ON THE FAMILY
Jean Bethke Elshtain
Mary Ann Glendon
The 1992 election has focused long overdue attention on the subject of families
and family values. Yet there can be little doubt that the use of pro-family arguments as attack
weapons by some has done a profound disservice to the cause of America's families.
We, the undersigned, are determined to do what we can to redirect the public
dialogue along a more constructive course. Our purpose is to demean no one, but rather to promote
the common good by supporting families in the vital work they do. Each of us championed
the needs of families long before they came to be abused as political pawns. We rise to speak
for the younger generation, for American families, and for the family that America might yet be.
We, the undersigned, believe:
that the well-being of our nation's children is a prime responsibility of
that too many parents are failing to discharge this responsibility adequately;
that society is not fostering a family-friendly environment and has a responsibility to
do so; economic pressures on parents, especially mothers, are mounting and the
popular culture is making the raising of children an ever more challenging task;
that as a result of these societal and parental failures, too many of our children are
being deprived of their opportunity to develop into responsible adults and contributing
that this deprivation constitutes a profound threat to the health of our common life;
and that therefore,
we must act with urgent shared purpose to strengthen families in order to improve
the prospects for our children and community.
While we do not agree with one another on every detail of each policy
recommendation set forth below, we stand united in our belief that our nation dares not further delay the
implementationthrough personal commitment, the voluntary institutions of civil society, and
public actionof a coherent pro-family agenda.
Government cannot intervene to promote child welfare while remaining neutral
about the family. Recognizing the family as the cornerstone of the moral and social formation
of children, we believe the following perspectives must inform specific measures to be taken:
economic, welfare, and human service policies should help, not hinder parents in
their child-rearing responsibilities;
all programs should encourage
self-help rather than promoting and deepening
all sectors of our societyparents, government, business, educators, voluntary
organizations, and health care providers should be encouraged and offered incentives to
together to receive the ethic of personal and shared commitment to children and
as The Responsive Communitarian
Platform states, "the weights of the historical,
sociological, and psychological evidence suggests that on average
two-parent families are better to discharge their child-raising
duties if only because there are more handsand voicesavailable for the task."
1. Toward a coherent care policy: infants at home; focusing public
quality care for children
The new President should formulate a coherent family policy that will include two
dovetailed main parts: bonding for infants with their parents at home at least until age one
and improved child care facilities for older children and for those infants whose parents face
unusual circumstances. This policy would replace the current tendency to deal in isolation, as
if unrelated, with policies concerning family leave and child care centers.
1.1 The best place for infants is at home, where they can bond with their
Most children who bonded with their parents in the first year of their lives are
reported to be doing better by practically all social, intellectual, and other behavioral measurements
those who were largely brought up in the first year of their lives outside the home. Strong
and growing evidence indicates that most infants (younger that age one) develop stronger
attachments to their parents that to child care personnel. There may be a need for more study but
we suggest that the accumulated evidence supports this conclusion.
It follows that several measures should be enacted that would move us as quickly
as possible toward enabling parents to be with their infants during the critical first years of life.
We need a family leave policy which allows parents to be parentsproviding
their children with a real "head start"while avoiding regulations and requirements that
could devastate small business. A ninety day unpaid leave to allow parents to care for a new or
sick child in business with fifty of more employees represents a good first step, but more should
be done. Ninety days are far from enough. Many industrialized societies provide a full year of
paid leave to a parent of a newborn child. Over time, as fiscal and economic circumstances
permit, we strongly recommend a phase in of at least six-months of publicly-provided paid leave
for parents following child birth or adoption and an additional six months unpaid leave for
those employed with more than fifty employees. Smaller businesses should be given tax incentives
to encourage them to provide a similar leave program.
We support policies that ease the tension between work place and parental
responsibilities and relieve the time crunch now experienced by so many families.
Forty hours remains the official work-week norm, but too many middle class
families must put in many extra hours just to stay even, while wage earners in lower middle class
and working poor families must frequently hold several jobs. The resulting time squeeze makes
it difficult for parents to properly discharge their responsibilities. It also exerts pressure on
organizations which depend heavily on volunteersthe network of informal associations that
families and communities in the past. Families flourish in a solid communitarian
environment; when community deteriorates, family suffer.
Accordingly, we urge adoption of corporate policies that
encourage flex-time and home work arrangements that permit parents to better mesh family and work responsibilities
and spend more time with their children. We turn below to the economic pressures that
parents experience and which push many parents to work long hours and hold multiple jobs.
However, declining real wages are not the only problem.
We also must call attention to cultural values which exaggerate the time crunch
experienced by American families. For too many parents, long work-hours are not simply a
reflection of economic pressure but also of excessive careerism or acquisitiveness. What these
parents, and the communities that they live and work within, need is a change of their "habits of
the heart," a change which reaffirms the value of children. We call on parents to recommit
themselves to their work as nurturers and stewards of the next generation and to put their
children first. We call on their friends and neighbors to appreciate those who are dedicated to
1.2 Public resources committed to child care centers for older children and
special cases must focus on sharply reducing turnover and improving the quality of the
Far too much out-of-home child care is being provided by poorly qualified persons
for whom it is just another minimum wage job. At the same time, excessive reliance on the
state and on licensing system that impeded small, informal neighborhood and community
child-care arrangements would only exacerbate the problem. To enhance accountability and reduce
parents should be expected to contribute, where feasible, at least four hour a week to the
child care centers in which their children are placed.
2. Empowering parents: toward pro-family economic policies
When the economy is allowed to deteriorate, the loser includes not just our
competitiveness and our general standard of living, but also our children and families. Economic
downturns amplify family strains, increase abuse and divorce, force many families to seek two
pay checks even if one or both parents wish to dedicate more time to their children, and
plunge millions of families into poverty. Economic policies that return our country to a path of
sustainable economic growth would count families among their leading beneficiaries, and in
particular would help children both by lifting man out of poverty and by providing more of them
with more stable homes. For the sake of our families and children, therefore, the next
administration must put in place a program of investment and growth to replace the frequent use of
recessions to deal with inflation.
Beyond general economic trends, there are specific developments that harm
children and families which need to and can be corrected. Accordingly, we suggest the following
2.1 Child allowances are better than increased tax exceptions, but increased
tax exemptions are better than inaction.
Economists have shown that families with young children are carrying an
ever-increasing tax burden. In 1948, a family of four at the median income paid only 0.3% of its income
in income taxes, while in 1989 that same family paid 9.1%. Increasing the tax exemption
children by $500 has been recommended by the Bush Administration to remedy, in part,
this anti-children trend. We rank this measure as second best; child allowance is better and
It is true that parents would have extra cash in their pockets if the child exemption
is increased. Such a tax cut, however, discriminates against families that dedicate more time
to their children and hence have less taxable income. Parents whose income declined because
they decided that one of them would stay at home while the children are young, parents who
share one job, or work less overtime, or are less career-committed because they are especially
dedicated to their childrenare disadvantaged by such changes in tax laws. An increase in
the exemption favors those families in which both parents work outside the household, thus
dedicating less time to their children but gaining a higher joint income (which makes the tax
exemption more valuable).
By contrast, a child allowance would aid all families by putting money directly into
the pockets of parents. Such allowances, common in Europe, do not discriminate between
those who work at home and those who work outside the home; they provide a fixed amount,
say, $600 per child to all parents. (To reduce costs and enhance social justice, these monies are
best treated as taxable income.)
What is at issue here is not the often-repeated debate over whether single parents
can bring up a child properly, whether divorce hurts children more or less than "bad"
marriages, and certainly not whether women have a right to work outside the household. At issue is
whether the government should enact public policies that discriminate against those who wish to
maintain child-oriented families and reward those that have decided to be two-paycheck families
for economic, careerist, or other reasonsespecially if both are gainfully employed full time.
Parents should be able to choose between working at home and outside the home, but
tax policies should not be used to favor families who earn more because both parents
work outside the home when there are young children in the family.
Finally, we must also note that increased tax exemptions reward especially the
rich, rain some favors on the middle classes, and do nothing for those with low incomes or no
income, the real poor. Child allowance treats all families as equals. For those who argue
that child allowance is more expensive, we say that we favor a revenue neutral switch whereby
the government would dedicate to child allowance the same revenues that would be lost if the
tax exemption for children is increased (about $24 billion dollars over the next five years under
the Republican Plan.) In this way, child allowance would not cost a penny more than increased
tax exemptions (of course, the cash grant would have to be lower than the amount of tax
credit since it would also be directed towards low-income parents.) Alternatively, a refundable
earned federal tax credit could be used and phased out as income increases.
2.2 The IRS should be used to ensure that deadbeat parents live up to their
responsibilities, and all states should establish paternity at the time of birth.
Single-parent families often face financial hardship. This hardship is particularly
burdensome when an absent parent does not contribute to his or her fair share of the parent
rearing the children. In these cases, the task of parenting becomes all that much harder.
Moreover, many of these families end up on welfare, posing an additional burden to the
over-extended state and federal governments.
To remedy this problem and send a strong signal to absent parents that they bear
important responsibilities toward their children, we support the following federal and state
efforts. First, Congress should pass legislation pursuant to the Downey/Hyde Plan which would use
the Internal Revenue Service to dock wages from parents (primarily fathers) who have
state lines to avoid paying child support. Second, all states should try to establish paternity
at the time of birth and include both parents on a child's birth certificate to insure that fathers
do not avoid their parental responsibilities.
3. Strengthening the tie that binds
We support measure and norms that recognize the psychological and economic needs
of children and enhance family stability. We recognize the reason that propel aggrieved
individuals to seek divorce. But we also believe that our widespread "culture of divorce" does little
to help sustain couples through inevitable periods of marital stress.
3.1 We call attention to, and congratulate, religious organizations that
provide systemic preparation before marriage takes place and counseling when divorce
threatens. Many churches will not marry couples who fail to attend prepatory discussions. Others
provide venues in which couples can form mutually sustaining communities and renew their vows.
We applaud and encourage expansion of the efforts to secular organizations such
as family resource centers and other community groups to offer courses and seminars on
preparing for and strengthening marriages and meeting the challenges of parenting.
We encourage schools to offer family life courses by the late elementary years so
that young people can focus early on the joys and responsibilities of family life and the challenge
We urge all government agencies issuing marriage
licenses to offer referrals to courses on marriage and parenting for prospective couples and community resources for families
3.2 We call for a change in divorce laws to favor children and slow the rush
to divorce. Changes in family structure over the past generation are strongly correlated with
rising rates of poverty among children. Divorce under current laws often spells economic
hardship for custodial parents and above all for their minor children. Existing legal structures do
not adequately recognize the difference between divorce involving only adults and those
where children are affected.
For divorces where children are involved we need a new set of rules based on
the principle of "children first." Issues of property division between the parents should not even
be considered until adequate provision has been made for the needs of minor children. Second,
as outlined above, child support awards must be systematically increased and effectively
enforced, with increased federal participation if needed to bolster state-based efforts. A parent should
be able to divorce a spouse if a marriage has irretrievably broken down, but
a parent should never be allowed to divorce a child.
3.3 We should also reexamine all other laws with an eye to their impact on
the culture of divorce. Current Social Security rules encourage divorce by substantially
increasing (up to 200 percent) the total benefits a couple receives after divorce. This is undesirable
because older people serve a role models for the young, because the elderly who have divorced are
more prone to illness and accident and less satisfied with their lives, and because Social
Security rules affect people of all ages through their impact on Supplemental Security Income
(SSI). This premium on divorce should be eliminated.
4. Toward a new, communitarian family: equal rights and
4.1 Nothing in this statement should be read as treating women (or mothers)
as having lesser rights or more responsibilities than men (or fathers).
We do not seek a return to traditional families, to discriminate against women, or the notion that parenting is only
a mother's job. We strongly support, and recognize as morally correct, the
fundamental equality of fathers and mothers: both command the same basic rights and responsibilities.
If there is any systemic difference between fathers and mothers it is that many
more fathers neglect their children than do mothers. For instance: very few fathers take family
leave in those corporations where it is available.
Both fathers and mothers must rededicate themselves to their children,
for the sake of the children, the long-run satisfaction of the parents,
and the quality of the community in which we all live.
4.2 We must fundamentally reform our welfare system to reinforce rather
than undermine family stability and personal responsibility.
While many factors are at work, there is little doubt that current welfare structures
tend to exacerbate tendencies toward single-parent households with all their attendant
problems. Credible studies show a strong correlation between marriage, completion of high school,
and subsequent long-term employment. Unfortunately, the present system promotes forms
of clientage that tend to erode family and community solidarity as well as individual
Parenting under modern conditions is difficult enough for two dedicated people to
handle. Facing that task aloneall too often in deteriorated housing, broken down neighborhoods
poverty, or drug dependencyis harder still. The results can be tragic: high infant mortality
substandard child health and educations attainment, and intergenerational cycles of poverty,
in urban as well as rural areas.
While there is no single "silver bullet" solution to this problem, we support
increased state, local, and community-based efforts to reform welfare. We believe that local welfare
reform efforts should be guided by the following objectives. First, in trying to break the cycle
of dependency which some single-families fall into, local efforts should emphasize incentives
for parents who find jobs and leave welfare, and encourage their children to act responsibly.
Second, while in principle we do not favor penalizing the poor or anybody else, if welfare
parents consistently act irresponsibly, we see some justification in gradually reducing their
benefits. Finally, local reform should receive significant federal encouragement and support. For
example, the burdensome, complex waiver requirements limiting state-based innovation in
welfare policy should be relaxed and simplified.
5. Restoring childhood: putting an end to premature
We should initiate a comprehensive campaigninvolving schools, community
organizations, and families themselvesagainst teenage pregnancy and
premature sexualization of the child.
We are stunned at widespread reports of girls as young as seven starving themselves
to meet culturally dictated images of female desirability. Studies indicate the preoccupation of
the young with physical attractiveness and sexual appeal have grown during the past several
decades. The ethos of self-indulgence and sexual objectification has become self-destructive.
All sexual education efforts must stress personal and social responsibility. The heart
of our message must not be safe sex or mere technique, but rather responsible behavior as
one feature of our mature identity.
This message should be reinforcedor at the very least not underminedby
media targeted to children and teenagers. Rather than accepting the cynical evasion of the 1990
National Children's Television Act that has characterized the response of all too many
broadcasters, the next administration should fully enforce its letter and spirit.
6. A culture of familialism
Finally, we must recreate a workable public philosophy, reflecting our
deepest values, as the essential context within which families can be strengthened and celebrated.
As Americans, we rightly cherish our individual freedom. But we cannot live
without communitarian roots: families, communities, religious and secular associations, and
various social movements. Children growing up outside a richly textured, interconnected network
of human relations are deprived of a most precious gift, society itself.
America's families are being weakened at a time when faith in all our public
institutions is faltering. The level of civic trust is on the wane. Young people lament the absence of
heroes with whom to identify. Some think we have lost confidence in the promise of democracy
itself. If we as a nation continue to fail the parents of our children, this loss of hope can only deepen.
We preach neither gloom nor nostalgia. We applaud the changes of the past
generation that have loosened rigid assumptions about the role of men and women. We seek no return to
previous epoch. But we are disturbed that too many policy analysts, opinion makers, and
elected officials continue to paint a rosy picture of change while refusing to confront the
worsening condition of the American family.
That condition can be simply put: the well-being of America's children is
declining. Where we engaged in a comprehensive discussion of policies and cultural norms that
could promote child welfare right here, we would need to turn to a number of issues beyond the
scope of this position paper. Our focus here is that we believe that stable intact families make
vital contribution to the nurturing of future citizens. Our children are in peril in a large
measure because they are less and less assured of the sustained care, support, and safety that comes
only with order in their immediate family.
In short, children are bearing the brunt of a profound cultural shift toward
excessive individualism, whose negative features we are now in a position to observe and whose
continuing costs will last longer than our own lifetimes. As civic educators, citizens, and parents,
we believe the time has come to look unflinchingly at the social costs of the fast-paced
alterations of family life in recent decades and to commit ourselves to taking the steps necessary to
set things right with our children and families.
Although the family is the locus of private life, it is also critical to public identity.
Here as elsewhere, the testimony of parents and scholars converges. Families teach us our
first lessons in responsibility and reciprocity. In the primary setting of the family, we either learn
or fail to learn what it means to give an take; to trust or to mistrust; to practice self-restraint or
self-indulgence; to be unreliable or reliable. It is for that reason, if no other, that we must begin
to make the vital connections between "public" policies and "private" families, and craft
policies that support families.
The family of which we speak is not an isolated unit, but rather an institution nested
in a wider social context that either sustains or weakens it. Without supportive society,
families can best function with difficulty. But today, on balance, American society puts negative
pressurecultural as well as economicon mothers and fathers.
When parents are asked to tell their stories, they lament that it is harder to do a
decent job rearing children in a culture that they regard as unfriendly to families. The
overwhelming majority of Americans believe that being a parent is much more difficult than it used to
be. Pessimism about the decline of family values is increasing. While expert and official
debate tends to focus on work place and child care issues, the grass-roots conversation revolves
around cultural issues. Parents express a pervasive fear that they have less and less time to spend on
the moral task of child-rearing and that as result their children are succumbing to the values
an excessively individualistic, materialistic, and sex-obsessed culture.
We do not argue that the government is the cause of children's problems, nor that
governmental inaction is the only problem facing children. We do believe that greater effort
in areas such as prenatal care, women and infant nutrition, and early childhood health and
education would yield significant returns. We also believe that an effective pro-family agenda
must be backed by resources. We believe that to reverse the tide, we must be willing to invest
wisely in proven programs that can help children and strengthen families.
We want to set aside sterile debates between liberals and conservatives and get down
to the business of strengthening families. The most important single indicator of childhood
lemsfrom poor health to poverty to behavioral problems to school drop-out to
criminalityis whether or not a child grows up in a stable, functioning family. With out-of-wedlock
birth rates approaching 80 percent in some areas, we can anticipate a further rise in all these
negative consequences unless something is done, soon.
Being a mother or father isn't just another "life-style choice," but rather an ethical
vocation of the weightiest sort. A responsive community must act to smooth the path for parents
so that the joys of family life might be more easily felt and its burdens more fairly borne.
Social policies cannot turn the world upside down. Nonetheless, we must act together in ways
that reflect our shared commitments to all those now engaged in the task of child-rearing, and to
the children whose well-being depends on that task being well done.
The Responsive Communitarian Platform on the Family
On November 18, 1991, The Responsive Communitarian
Platform was released. It spells out an encompassing agenda, and contains the following statement about the family:
To rebuild America's moral foundations, to bring our regard for individuals and their rights
into a better relationship with our sense of personal and collective responsibility, we must
therefore begin with the institutions of civil society.
Start With the Family
The best place to start is where each new generation acquires its moral anchoring:
at home, in the family. We must insist once again that bringing children into the world entails
a moral responsibility to provide, not only material necessities, but also moral education
and character formation.
Moral education is not a task that can be delegated to baby sitters, or even
professional child-care centers. It requires close bonding of the kind that typically is formed only
with parents, if it is formed at all.
Fathers and mothers, consumed by "making it" and consumerism, or preoccupied
with personal advancement, who come home too late and too tired to attend to the needs of
their children, cannot discharge their most elementary duty to their children and their fellow citizens.
It follows, that work places should
provide maximum flexible opportunities to
parents to preserve an important part of their time and energy, of their life, to attend to their
educational-moral duties, for the sake of the next generation, its civic and moral character, and
its capacity to contribute economically and socially to the commonweal. Experiments such
as those with unpaid and paid parental leave, flextime, shared jobs, opportunities to work at
home, and for parents to participate as volunteers and managers in child-care centers, should be
extended and encouraged.
Above all, what we need is a change in
orientation by both parents and work places. Child-raising is important, valuable work, work that must be honored rather than denigrated
by both parents and the community.
Families headed by single parents experience particular difficulties. Some single
parents struggle bravely and succeed in attending to the moral education of their children;
while some married couples shamefully neglect their moral duties toward their offspring.
However, the weight of the historical, sociological, and psychological evidence suggests that on
average two-parent families are better able to discharge their child-raising
duties if only because there are more handsand voicesavailable for the task. Indeed, couples often do better when
they are further backed up by a wider circle of relatives. The issue has been wrongly framed
when one asks what portion of parental duties grandparents or other helpers can assume. Their
assistance is needed in addition to, not as a substitute for, parental care. Child-raising is by
nature labor-intensive. There are no labor-saving technologies, and shortcuts in this area
produce woefully deficient human beings, to their detriment and ours.
It follows that widespread divorce, when there are children involved, especially
when they are in their formative years, is indicative of a serious social problem. Though divorces
are necessary in some situations, many are avoidable and are
not in the interest of the children, the community, and probably not of most adults either. Divorce laws should be modified, not
to prevent divorce, but to signal society's concern.
Above all, we should cancel the message that divorce puts an end to
responsibilities among members of a child-raising family. And the best way to cancel that message is to
reform the economic aspects of divorce laws so that the enormous financial burden of marriage
dissolution no longer falls primarily on minor children and those parents who are their
principal caretakers. Just as we recognized in the 1960s that it was unjust to apply to consumers laws
that were fashioned for the dealings of merchants with one another, we must now acknowledge
that it is a mistake to handle divorces involving couples with young children with a set of rules
that was tailored mainly to the needs and desires of warring husbands and wives alone. The
principle of "children first" should be made fundamental to property settlements and support awards.
Endorsers of The Responsive Communitarian Platform
The listing below includes all those who endorsed the platform omitting those who
took exception to the preceding clause. Their support for the platform should not necessarily
be construed as an indication of their support for this position paper on the family. Note,
though, that the position paper draws on the principles enunciated in the platform.
Enola Aird (Activist mother, Connecticut)
Rodolfo Alvarez (University of California, Los Angeles)
John B. Anderson (Presidential Candidate, 1980)
Robert N. Bellah (University of California, Berkeley)
Warren Bennis (University of Southern California)
David Blankenhorn (President, Institute for American Values)
John E. Brandl (University of Minnesota; former Minnesota State Senator, Rep.)
James Childress (University of Virginia)
Bryce J. Christensen (President, The Family in America, The Rockford Institute)
Henry Cisneros (Former Mayor, San Antonio, Texas)
John C. Coffee (Columbia University Law School)
David Cohen (Co-Director, Advocacy Institute)
Anthony E. Cook (Georgetown University Law School)
Harvey Cox (Harvard Divinity School)
Thomas E. Cronin (Colorado College)
Thomas Donaldson (Georgetown University)
Joseph Duffey (President, The American University)
Thomas W. Dunfee (Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania)
Stuart E. Eizenstat (Attorney, Washington, D.C.)
Lloyd Elliott (President Emeritus, George Washington University)
Jean Bethke Elshtain (Vanderbilt University)
Amitai Etzioni (The George Washington University)
Chester E. Finn, Jr. (Vanderbilt University)
James Fishkin (University of Texas, Austin)
Carol Tucker Foreman (Partner, Foreman & Heidepriem)
Betty Friedan (New York City)
William A. Galston (University of Maryland)
John W. Gardner (Stanford University)
Neil Gilbert (University of California, Berkeley)
Mary Ann Glendon (Harvard Law School)
T. George Harris (New York, NY)
David K. Hart (Brigham Young University)
Jeffrey R. Henig (George Washington University)
Albert O. Hirschman (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton)
James Hunter (University of Virginia)
Daniel Kemmis (Mayor, Missoula, Montana)
Hillel Levine (Boston University)
George C. Lodge (Harvard Business School)
Malcolm Lovell, Jr. (President, National Planning Association)
Duncan MacRae, Jr. (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Frank Mankiewicz (Vice Chairman, Hill and Knowlton)
Gary Marx (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Thomas McCollough (Duke University)
Sanford N. McDonnell (Chairman Emeritus, McDonnell Douglas)
John L. McKnight (Northwestern University)
Newton N. Minow (Former F.C.C. Chairman; Attorney, Chicago, Illinois)
Charles Moskos (Northwestern University)
Ilene H. Nagel (U.S. Sentencing Commission and Indian University)
Richard John Neuhaus (President, Religion and Public Life
William C. Norris (Chairman, William C. Norris Institute,
John Parr (President, National Civic League)
Michael Pertschuk (Co-Director, Advocacy Institute)
Chase N. Peterson (President-Emeritus, University of Utah)
Grethe B. Peterson (University of Utah)
Terry Pinkard (Georgetown University)
David Popenoe (Rutgers University)
David Riesman (Harvard University)
Alice S. Rossi (Former President, American Sociological Association; Amherst,
William D. Ruckelshaus (Chairman of the Board and Chief
Browning-Ferris Industries; Houston, Texas)
George Rupp (President, Rice University)
Isabel Sawhill (Senior Fellow, The Urban Institute)
Kurt L. Schmoke (Mayor of Baltimore)
Philip Selznick (University of California, Berkeley)
Albert Shanker (President, American Federation of Teachers)
Fred Siegel (Cooper Union)
Gillian Martin Sorensen (President, National Conference of
Christians and Jews, Inc.)
Thomas Spragens, Jr. (Duke University)
Margaret O'Brien Steinfels (Editor,
Adlai E. Stevenson (Chicago, Illinois)
Peter L. Strauss (Columbia University)
William Sullivan (LaSalle University)
Robert Theobald (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Lester C. Thurow (Dean, Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of
Daniel Thursz (President, The National Council on the
Kenneth Tollett (Howard University)
Barbara Dafoe Whitehead (Amherst, Massachusetts)
Dennis H. Wrong (New York University)
Daniel Yankelovich (President, Public Agenda Foundation)
Brad Wilcox, Assistant Editor of The Responsive
Community, served as research assistant for this paper. The paper also benefitted from editorial comments and the production
work of David Brown, Paul Downs, Steve Helland, Sarah Horton, and Mimi Wanka at
The Communitarian Network.
About the Authors
JEAN ELSHTAIN is Centennial Professor of Political Science and Professor of Philosophy
as Vanderbilt University. Her most recent book is
Power Trips and Other Journeys.
ENOLA AIRD, an activist mother, is Chair of the Connecticut Commission on Children. She
is also a co-convener of the New Haven Child Plan.
AMITAI ETZIONI is Editor of The Responsive
Community and University Professor at The George Washington University. He is also the author of
The Moral Dimension.
WILLIAM GALSTON is Professor in the School of Public Affairs at The University of
Maryland at College Park. He is the author of Liberal
MARY ANN GLENDON is Professor of Law at Harvard University and author more
recently of Rights Talk and the Implementation of Political
Discourse. She is also president of the International Association of Legal Science.
MARTHA MINOW is Professor of Law at Harvard University. An expert on family law
civil procedure, she is the author of Making All the Difference: Inclusion, Exclusion and the
ALICE ROSSI, former president of the American Sociological Association, was the
Harriet Martineau Professor of Sociology at The University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Her
most recent book, co-written by Peter H. Rossi, is
Of Human Bonding: Parent-Child Relations Across the