Bowling Alone
The Collapse and Revival of American Community

Putnam, Robert D.
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster, New York, USA
Year Published:  2000  
Pages:  541pp   Price:  $26  
Library of Congress Number:  HN65.P878 2000   Dewey:  306'0973--dc21
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX6754

Bowling Alone documents the rise and fall of community activity in the twentieth century in the United States and the social changes this reflects. It offers all the evidence, the confirmatory and the contradictory, to give a complete look at trends of community involvement and how increased social capital can benefit everybody.

Abstract:  Bowling Alone documents the rise and fall of community activity in the twentieth century in the United States and the social changes this reflects. It focuses on the theory of social capital, which refers to the increased productivity of the individual and communities through involvement in social networks. Putman looks at both the positive and negative connotations of social capital, from the positive aspects of mutual support, co-operation, trust and institutional effectiveness, to the negative aspects of sectarianism, ethnocentrism and corruption. He asks whether or not life in communities has really changed so much from the 1950s and 1960s when community involvement was at its peak, to modern times when involvement is on the decline, or if our perception of it has just changed.

The book is split into five sections. Section one is a comprehensive introduction to the main themes in the book; section two focuses on trends in civic engagement and social capital, such as participation in political, civil, religious, workplace and social activities; the third suggests reasons for this decline such as the pressures of time and money, mobility, sprawl, technology and mass media; the fourth section asks the question, "So What?" and details some of the repercussions of the decline in community involvement such as children's education and welfare, safe and productive neighbourhoods, economic prosperity, health and happiness, democracy and the dark side of social capital; the fifth section sums up what can be done through lessons from history and an agenda for social capitalists.

The book is full of useful charts, tables and graphs, followed by a detailed appendix of sources for further research. Bowling Alone offers all the evidence, the confirmatory and the contradictory, to give a complete look at trends of community involvement and how increased social capital can benefit everybody.

[abstract by Adrianne Faris]



Table of Contents:

Section I: Introduction
Chapter 1: Thinking about social change in America

Section II: Trends in civic engagement and social capital
Chapter 2: Political participation
Chapter 3: Civic participation
Chapter 4: Religious participation
Chapter 5: Connections in the workplace
Chapter 6: Informal social connections
Chapter 7: Altruism, volunteering, and philanthropy
Chapter 8: Reciprocity, honesty, and trust
Chapter 9: Against the tide? Small groups, social movements, and the net

Section III: Why?
Chapter 10: Introduction
Chapter 11: Pressure of time and money
Chapter 12: Mobility and sprawl
Chapter 13: Technology and Mass Media
Chapter 14: From generation to generation
Chapter 15: What killed civic engagement? Summing up

Section IV: What?
Chapter 16: Introduction
Chapter 17: Education and children's welfare
Chapter 18: Safe and productive neighborhoods
Chapter 19: Economic prosperity
Chapter 20: Health and happiness
Chapter 21: Democracy
Chapter 22: The dark side of social capital

Section V: What is to be done?
Chapter 23: Lessons of history: The gilded age and the progressive era
Chapter 24: Toward an agenda for social capitalists

Appendix I: Measuring social change
Appendix II: Sources for figures and tables
Appendix III: The rise and fall of civic and professional associations

Notes
The story behind this book
Index

Subject Headings

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