Who Is My Neighbor?  Social Affinity in a Modern World

1999, State University of New York Press

In a world which often is labeled a “global village,” who exactly is our neighbor? Who is My Neighbor? explores the emergence of what is called “social affinity,” a concept bridging classical notions of social cohesion with contemporary social psychology.
  The ideas underlying social affinity focus on the sentiment of moral obligation which holds society together.

In order to understand how a sense of social affinity emerges within individuals, the author breaks down the concept into three dimension—social consciousness, sentiment, and action—and their constitutive elements. These dimensions are then brought together in a single model demonstrating how social affinity and the meaning our values have for us are shaped by our social location and the self-interest which permeates our culture.


“Bold in conception, breathtaking because of the range of writing it draws together, scrupulously careful in execution, and elegantly parsimonious in its explanation, Professor Vela-McConnell has written a book that is at once deeply satisfying intellectually and hugely valuable to anyone interested in linking theory to public policy. All whose political and moral sensibilities lie in the direction of maximizing a sense of neighborliness—in the immediate social context of our lives, within the boundaries of the United States, and in our increasingly global village—should read this book.”  —from the Foreword by David Karp, author of Speaking of Sadness:  Depression, Disconnection, and the Meanings of Illness

“Along lines that reach back to Cooley and Mead in sociology, and to Adam Smith and John Locke in philosophy, this study aims to show how social-contextual variables shape social affinity and our sense of neighbor-love in a world that esteems competition, self-interest, and individualism....  Theoretically, this book is particularly valuable for its efforts to integrate a profusion of disparate and ‘miniscule’ social-psychological theories of circumspect social phenomena—prosocial behavior, socialization, moral development and the like—into a larger picture of a more complex social world.  Substantively, the book is valuable for the timely complement it offers to recent studies of growing inequality and declining civic engagement and public participation in American society....  [I]t has much to contribute ... from social psychology to the larger inquiry now unfolding into the responsibility Americans share for the way of life we lead and the future we face.”  —Steven M. Tipton, Emory University (review published in Contemporary Sociology, January 2001)


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