Bellah, Robert N.

Robert Neelly Bellah (1927–2013) was an American sociologist, educator, and public figure. He was born in Oklahoma but was educated in California and received his PhD in sociology at Harvard under the direction of Talcott Parsons. Bellah continued to subscribe to Parsons’s functionalism until the 1960s. By then, he had established his reputation as a major figure in sociology of religion with his Tokugawa Religion (1957). In this book, he employed the notion of Japanese spiritualism much like Max Weber used the notion of asceticism in the Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.

In 1967, Bellah published his essay “Civil Religion,” which sparked a heated debate about the role of religion in the United States. In Habits of the Heart (1985), Bellah and his ...

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