Robert N. Bellah
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/10670
Robert N. Bellah
Wood, Richard L.
Robert N. Bellah was born on February 23, 1927 in Altus, Oklahoma, where his father was a small town newspaper publisher, and raised in Los Angeles, California. In 1949 he married Melanie Bellah. He graduated summa cum laude in 1950 from Harvard College with a degree in Social Relations and a concentration in Social Anthropology. His ndergraduate honors thesis focused on southern Athabascan cultural patterns in the Southwest, and was published in 1952 as Apache Kinship Systems. He pursued doctoral studies under the leading social theorist of the period, Talcott Parsons, earning his Ph.D. in sociology and Far Eastern languages from Harvard University in 1955. His dissertation was a Weberian analysis of the role of religion in the modernization of Japan, and was published as Tokugawa religion in 1957. This formative period coincided with the systematic effort within American social science to translate the works of the European founders of sociology, particularly Max Weber and Emile Durkheim (with their roots in the philosophical work of Hegel) into English, and to incorporate their insights into an overall theory of social relations. Though the resulting school of "structural functionalism" was later rejected by most social scientists - and in some ways transcended in Bellah's own work - this attention to American and European currents of social thought would mark his entire career.
“Robert N. Bellah” by Richard L. Wood, in The Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers, John R. Shook (ed.), Thoemmes Press (2005).