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Robert Bellah"Habits of The Heart" Co-Author Robert Bellah to Speak on Protestantism and Multiculturalism

October 24, 2000 -- Sociologist Robert M. Bellah, co-author of the best-selling books "Habits of the Heart" and "The Good Society," will speak at the University of Virginia on Thursday, Nov. 9.

Bellah, the Elliott Professor of Sociology Emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley, will deliver this semester's Lecture in Culture and Social Theory, sponsored by U.Va.'s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture and the Department of Sociology. His talk, titled "The Protestant Structure of American Culture: Multiculture or Monoculture?" will be held at 3:30 p.m. in Minor Hall Auditorium. At 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 10, a panel discussion with Bellah will be held in the Rotunda Dome Room with responses by U.Va. faculty members.

Bellah is widely known as senior author of "Habits of the Heart" and "The Good Society," which identify tensions between individualism, a sense of community, and social institutions as dominant characteristics of contemporary American life. "Habits of the Heart," first published in 1985, became one of the most discussed interpretations of recent American society.

In his lecture, he will consider how the U.S. has proven hospitable in recent years to the idea of multiculturalism. He will argue that while multiculturalism rejects the "melting pot" metaphor in favor of a "salad bowl" of cultural identities, the result may not be any different. Protestantism, he will argue, supplies a deep structure of American culture and carries a powerful message of individualism. Thus, sentiments such as "we're all different and unique: respect that" may not challenge our dominant culture, but only be a form of it. Bellah will conclude by considering what a genuine challenge to the dominant culture might actually look like.

Educated at Harvard University in sociology, anthropology, and Eastern religions, Bellah began teaching at Harvard in 1957 and moved to Berkeley in 1967. His other books include "Beyond Belief," "The Broken Covenant" and "The New Religious Consciousness."

Sociology professor Murray Milner will moderate the Nov. 10 panel discussion. Panelists will include associate professor of religious studies Heather Warren and sociology professor James D. Hunter.

Contact: Bob Brickhouse, (804) 924-6856

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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