Title

Changing patterns of obligation and the emergence of individualism in American political thought

Publication Date

2004

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Students of American political thought have long noted changes in the goals pursued by colonial American communities. Relations between Americans and their communities, previously characterized by security and peaceful existence were transformed into relations grounded in economic well-being. This shift in focus had the effect of altering the relationship between individuals and their community. Obligating members to behave industriously has the effect of weakening the social, familial, religious, and political controls originally used to keep the “sinful” individual in check. These weakening ties were exacerbated by colonial developments in constitutional theory that contribute to the movement away from the religious origins of American political thought. This secularizing process paves the way for the introduction of individualism into American thinking prior to 1776.

Original Citation

Barkalow J.B. (2004). Changing patterns of obligation and the emergence of individualism in American political thought. Political Research Quarterly, 57(3), 491-500. https://doi.org/10.1177/106591290405700313