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A Nation of NeighborhoodsImagining Cities, Communities, and Democracy in Postwar America$
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Benjamin Looker

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226073989

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226290454.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 28 March 2020

Routes of Escape

Routes of Escape

Cold War Individualism and Community Ties

Chapter:
(p.106) Four Routes of Escape
Source:
A Nation of Neighborhoods
Author(s):

Benjamin Looker

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226290454.003.0004

Fears over physical blight soon intersected with cold-war anxieties over infiltration and subversion. Chapter 4 surveys prominent cold-war interpretations of the city neighborhood's functions, where narratives of peril and decline overwhelmed the progressive neighborhood aspirations of the early 1940s. As commentators warned that even the smallest-scale institutions of American life were vulnerable to ideological infection, sociologists such as Morris Janowitz and Robert Nisbet debated the traditional neighborhood's function with reference to questions of statism, consumerism, authority, and individualism. At the same time, cold-war liberals increasingly suspected that neighborhood solidarity—a value once celebrated—led only to conformism or collectivism, social prejudice or narrow forms of group-think. As this chapter relates, in the works of figures ranging from screenwriter Reginald Rose to pundit John Keats, and from opera composer Gian Carlo Menotti to novelist Edwin O’Connor, older ideals of neighborhood unity had come to seem clannish and constricting.

Keywords:   cold war, conformism, opera, novelist, neighborhood, Morris Janowitz, Robert Nisbet, Reginald Rose, Gian Carlo Menotti, Edwin O’Connor

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