Synopses & Reviews
Drawing on vast new data that reveal Americans’ changing behavior, Putnam shows how we have become increasingly disconnected from one another and how social structures—whether they be PTA, church, or political parties—have disintegrated. Until the publication of this groundbreaking work, no one had so deftly diagnosed the harm that these broken bonds have wreaked on our physical and civic health, nor had anyone exalted their fundamental power in creating a society that is happy, healthy, and safe.
Like defining works from the past, such as The Lonely Crowd and The Affluent Society, and like the works of C. Wright Mills and Betty Friedan, Putnam’s Bowling Alone has identified a central crisis at the heart of our society and suggests what we can do.
"Bowling Alone provides important new data on the trends in civic engagement and social capital, a revised analysis if the causes of the decline, an expoloration of its consequences, and ideas about what might be done. The book will not settle the debate, but it is a formidable acheivement. It will henceforth be impossible to discuss these issues knowledgeably without reading Putnam's book and thinking about it." Paul Starr, The New Republic
Alan Ryan The New York Review of Books Rich, dense, thoughtful, fascinating...packed with provocative information about the social and political habits of twentieth-century Americans.
Alan Ehrenhalt The Wall Street Journal A powerful argument...presented in a lucid and readable way.
Julia Keller Chicago Tribune A learned and clearly focused snapshot of a crucial moment in American history.
Wendy Rahn The Washington Post This is a very important book; it's the de Tocqueville of our generation. And you don't often hear an academic like me say those sorts of things.
Richard Flacks Los Angeles Times Putnam styles himself as a kind of sociological detective....The reader experiences the suspense that can happen in both detective fiction and science.
In a groundbreaking bestseller based on vast new data, Putnam shows how we have become increasingly disconnected from family, friends, neighbors, and our democratic structures--and tells how we may reconnect.
Once we bowled in leagues, usually after work—but no longer. This seemingly small phenomenon symbolizes a significant social change that Robert Putnam has identified in this brilliant volume, which The Economist hailed as “a prodigious achievement.”
Includes bibliographical references (p. -504) and index.
About the Author
Robert D. Putnam
is the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard. He is currently president of the American Political Science Association, fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the author of nine previous books. He lives in Lexington, Massachusetts. To learn more about Bowling Alone
and ways to help rebuild our nation's social capital, visit the author's Web sites at www.bowlingalone.com
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: Pressures 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: SO WHAT? (with the assistance of Kristin A. Goss)
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
THE STORY BEHIND THIS BOOK