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Amitai Etzioni
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Amitai Etzioni
Senior Advisor to the Carter White House

Amitai Etzioni is an Israeli-American sociologist, best known for his work on communitarianism. Born in CologneGermany in 1929, Amitai Etzioni was four years old when the Nazis rose to power in Germany in 1933. The Etzioni family fled Germany in 1935 for Italy and then Greece, and then moved to Palestine in 1936, helping to establish and run a cooperative farm. Soon after his family settled in Palestine, Etzioni began to use the first name Amitai. In 1946 Etzioni dropped out of high school and served until 1948 in the Palmach, an elite fighting force within the Haganah, the underground army fighting to establish the state of Israel (it was during this time that he began to use the last name Etzioni).

From 1950 to 1951 Etzioni studied at an academic institute established by Martin Buber, and in 1951 enrolled in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He studied classical and contemporary works in sociology, completing both BA and MA degrees. In 1957 he enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, and was a research assistant to Seymour Martin Lipset. He received his PhD in sociology in 1958, completing the degree in the record time of 18 months.

Etzioni went on to have a long and distinguished career. He served as a Senior Advisor to the Carter White House; taught at Columbia University, Harvard, University of California at Berkeley, and is a University Professor at The George Washington University. He served as the President of the American Sociological Association, and he founded the Communitarian Network ( A study by Richard Posner ranked him among the top 100 American intellectuals. He is the author of numerous op-eds and his voice is frequently heard in the media. He is the author of several books, including The Active Society, The Moral Dimension, The New Golden Rule, My Brother’s Keeper, and Security First: For a Muscular, Moral Foreign Policy. His latest book, New Common Ground, was published by Potomac Books in 2009.


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