Communitarianism and republicanism are closely related schools of thought - so closely related that friend and foe alike sometimes conflate them. The relationship is evident in their Latin roots: communitarians are concerned with communitas, the common life of people who form a community, and republicans are devoted to the res publica, the good of the public. Of the two, however, only republicanism traces its lineage as well as its name to ancient Rome. Indeed, scholars often look beyond Rome to the philosophers and city-states of ancient Greece, particularly Aristotle and Sparta, for the origins of republicanism. For the origins of communitarianism, though, one need look no farther back than the nineteenth century, and it is only since the 1980s that the term 'communitarian' has gained its present currency as a result of the so-called liberal-communitarian debate.

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Copyright © 2004 Sage Publications. This chapter first appeared in Handbook of Political Theory.

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