Communitarianism is a philosophy that emphasizes the connection between the individual and the community. Although the community might be a family unit, communitarianism usually is understood, in the wider, philosophical sense, as a collection of interactions, among a community of people in a given place (geographical location), or among a community who share an interest or who share a history. Communitarian philosophy is based upon the belief that a person’s social identity and personality are largely molded by community relationships with a smaller degree of development being placed on individualism.

The philosophy of communitarianism originated in the 20th century, but the term “communitarian” was coined in 1841, by John Goodwyn Barmby, a leader of the British Chartist movement, who used it in referring to utopian socialists, and other idealists, who experimented with communal styles of life. However, it was not until the 1980s that the term “communitarianism” gained currency through association with the work of a small group of political philosophers, mostly American. Their application of the label “communitarian” was controversial, even among communitarians, because, in the West, the term “communitarian” evokes associations with the ideologies of socialism and collectivism; so, public leaders and some of the academics who champion this school of thought  usually avoid the term “communitarian”, while still advocating and advancing the ideas of communitarianism.

Communitarianism, social and political philosophy that emphasizes the importance of community in the functioning of political life, in the analysis and evaluation of political institutions, and in understanding human identity and well-being. It arose in the 1980s as a critique of two prominent philosophical schools: contemporary liberalism, which seeks to protect and enhance personal autonomy and individual rights in part through the activity of government, and libertarianism, a form of liberalism (sometimes called “classical liberalism”) that aims to protect individual rights—especially the rights to liberty and property—through strict limits on governmental power.There are strong communitarian elements in many modern and historical political and religious belief systems—e.g., in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the Christian New Testament (Acts 4:32: “Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common”); in the early Islamic concept of shūrā (“consultation”); in Confucianism; in Roman Catholicsocial thought (the papal encyclical Rerum Novarum [1891]); in moderate conservatism (“To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle…of public affections”—Edmund Burke); and in social democracy, especially Fabianism. Communitarian ideas have also played a significant role in public life through their incorporation into the electoral platforms and policies of Western political leaders of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, and U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.Varieties Of Communitarianism

The term communitarian was coined in 1841 by John Goodwyn Barmby, a leader of the British Chartist movement, who used it to refer to utopian socialists and others who experimented with unusual communal lifestyles. It was rarely used in the generations that followed.

The term is primarily used in two senses:

Philosophical communitarianism considers classical liberalism to be ontologically and epistemologically incoherent, and opposes it on those grounds. Unlike classical liberalism, which construes communities as originating from the voluntary acts of pre-community individuals, it emphasizes the role of the community in defining and shaping individuals. Communitarians believe that the value of community is not sufficiently recognized in liberal theories of justice.

Ideological communitarianism is characterized as a radical centrist ideology that is sometimes marked by leftism on economic issues and centrism on social issues. This usage was coined recently. When the term is capitalized, it usually refers to the Responsive Communitarian movement of Amitai Etzioni and other philosophers.