Bellah, Robert N.

Robert Neelly Bellah (23 February 1927 to 30 July 2013), Harvard BA 1948, Harvard PhD 1955, American sociologist and educator, served for thirty years as professor of sociology at the University of California at Berkeley. One of the most influential sociologists, Bellah's books, Beyond Belief, The Broken CovenantHabits of the Heart, and The Good Society shaped the discipline. His recent book, Religion in Human Evolution, continued that tradition. Bellah began his vocation as a scholar of Japan. Tokugawa Religion and a more recent collection of essays, Imagining Japan, focus on this society’s cultural roots in relation to modernity. A large slice of his work, including his most influential essays “Religious Evolution” and “Civil Religion in America,” is found in The Robert Bellah Reader (2006), which Bellah coedited with Emory University Professor Steven M. Tipton. Centering on the effort to understand the modern world with the United States as exhibit A and critical of modernity’s cognitive-evaluative and faith-knowledge divides, Bellah says that this Reader is “a collection that reflects my work and my life: my scholarship in sociological theory and in a variety of cultures and societies; my engagement, not only in the life of the university, but also in ethics, politics, and religion.” In 2000, President Clinton awarded Bellah the National Humanities Medal and in 2007, he received the American Academy of Religion Martin E. Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion. Robert Bellah died 30 July 2013, of complications following heart surgery. He was eighty-six.

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