Communitas (book)

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AuthorPercival Goodman, Paul Goodman
SubjectUrban planning
Published1947 (University of Chicago Press)

Communitas: Means of Livelihood and Ways of Life is a 1947 book on community and city planning by Percival and Paul Goodman.


Communitas was first written in the early 1940s and edited in 1946 for its publication in Chicago the next year. A revised edition was published in 1960 in New York. It rearranges the book's contents and tightens some passages, including the conclusion. Some examples were added (e.g., Chinese commune and Black Mountain College), and others updated (e.g., highway materials). Though the revised edition puts more emphasis on the role of "affluence", the book remained mostly the same.[1]


Sociologist David Riesman, who later wrote The Lonely Crowd, offers an extended, positive critique towards the Goodmans' book in The Yale Law Journal the same year as the title's publication.[1][2] The sociologist notes issues with the Goodmans' sparse treatment of history and comments on the book's intellectual forebears, in particular, dependence on scholar of cities Lewis Mumford and unfairness towards garden city movement founder Ebenezer Howard.[1]


Communitas became known as a major work of urban planning, and some consider it Paul Goodman's masterpiece. Yet the book only received this recognition following the resurgence of interest in Paul Goodman's works late in his life. Even as Random House republished the title in 1960 alongside Goodman's landmark Growing Up Absurd,[3] the book received little published discussion in the following decades, apart from the extended Riesman piece.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Widmer 1980, p. 156.
  2. ^ Riesman 1947.
  3. ^ Smith 2001, p. 180.