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ERIC Number: EJ818282
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Dec
Pages: 25
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 65
ISSN: ISSN-0036-0112
On Diversity, Empathy, and Community: The Relevance of Johann Gottfried Herder
Bahr, Howard M.; Durrant, Marie B.; Evans, Matthew T.; Maughan, Suzanne L.
Rural Sociology, v73 n4 p503-527 Dec 2008
The writings of Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803) foreshadowed several of the dominant theories of sociology, social psychology, aesthetics, linguistics and literary theory. His ideas impacted generations of thinkers, but today he is uncelebrated, mostly unknown. His writings on populism, expressionism, and pluralism are relevant to contemporary sociology, especially community sociology. Here we consider his views on the nature and meaning of community, and his methods of studying and interpreting communities. These include an emphasis on the essential particularity of human communities and their connection to wider systems and networks. Herder urges special attention to the elements of context (place, time, language, culture) within which communities are situated. Herder's is an embedded particularism, a focus on individuality and diversity within larger unities. He also sensitizes us to the multivalence and multiplicity of social phenomena. As the proper stance for community research he counsels involvement and empathy rather than objectivity and emotional distance, and he urges researchers to be sensitive to data from all of their senses, not merely sight. Drawing upon Herder's writings, we conclude with several important methodological principles relevant to improving current work on the nature and conceptualization of communities. (Contains 4 footnotes.)
Rural Sociological Society. 104 Gentry Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211-7040. Tel: 573-882-9065; Fax: 573-882-1473; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A