The purpose of this paper is to examine the concept of community in American life, as well as discuss various aspects of commitment between people in this country, as outlined in the book, Habits of the Heart.
The term "community" is clearly defined by the book's authors, who use the word with a very specific meaning in mind. Whereas a community tries to be an inclusive whole, in celebration of the interdependence of public and private life and of the different callings of all, the term "lifestyle" is basically segmental and celebrates similarity, not differences, which is why the latter term is not favored by the authors (72).
"Lifestyle enclaves" is an interesting term used in the book to denote what is essentially an outgrowth of the sectoral organization of American life, which has resulted from the emergence of the national market (due to industrialization). For a long time in American twentieth-century history, private life and leisure time and leisure consumption patterns were basically expressions of one's social status, which in turn was linked to social class and category, as happens in more traditional societies. However, the authors feel that as social status and class came to depend more and more on a national occupational system and less on the local community, a degree of freedom became possible in modern American private life that would not have been dreamed of in the small town or among the older, more traditional urban elite groups (73).