Synopses & Reviews
The U.S. economy has passed through one of the longest and most impressive booms in its history. We are enjoying our highest standard of living ever, buoyed by low crime and an improving environment. Still, we worry that, in other important ways, we're losing ground as a society. In particular, social commentators are bemoaning the state of our communities. Is our civic engagement declining even amidst material well-being? Do we no longer join together, care about each other, and trust one another as we once did?
Everett Carll Ladd, a political scientist who directs the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, uses a vast array of data to offer a definitive report on the state of America's civic life. He shows that, far from withering, civic life is thriving.
Participation in community affairs has dramatically increased. You might be surprised, considering most media portrayals, to learn that:
- The national PTA has declined, but overall parent-teacher involvement has soared, and more parents report spending more time than ever with their kids' schooling.
- The Sierra Club and Audubon Society have grown fourfold since 1970.
- A rich variety of new community churches find their membership burgeoning. Despite the decline of mainline denominations, more people attend church now than ever before.
- Levels of charitable giving have been climbing steadily in real terms for more than a half century.
- Volunteer rates are up significantly. For all the time-squeeze on two-wage-earner families and the allure of television sitcoms, a record number of Americans now do volunteer work.
If you are wondering how to organize your own community, or how you can pitch in, or simply want to know what all the doomsayers are talking about, then The Ladd Report is for you. Here is an essential guide that will answer every argument and remind us all how right Tocqueville was when he described America as a "nation of joiners."
Whether it's the PTA or the Elks Club, much has been written about the decline of the country's "social capital". In this book, social scientist Ladd goes behind the gloomy headlines to determine the true state of the nation's social fabric.
Whether it's the PTA or bowling league, the Elks Club or the Girl Scouts, much has been written about the decline of the country's "social capital". In Silent Revolution, Everett Carll Ladd goes behind the gloomy headlines to determine the true state of the nation's social fabric -- and discovers that civic responsibility is alive and well and thriving in neighborhoods throughout the country.
From parental involvement in schools and church attendance to charitable giving and volunteer work, Ladd charts this new activism across a range of benchmark areas, providing firm evidence of the sharing and participation that are reinventing and reenergizing community life.
Offering surprising insights into how we live with each other as Americans, he shows how the technological revolution of our post-industrial era is inviting millions to explore civic life in ways never before possible -- and sheds new light on how this traditional "nation of joiners" continues to hold together.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 COUNTING OUR SOCIAL CAPITAL
Chapter 2 NATION OF LONERS?
The Great Social Capital Debate
Chapter 3 FROM BOWLING LEAGUES TO SOCCER NATION
Churning, Not Decline
Chapter 4 VOLUNTEERING AND GIVING
The Cast Has Changed, but Levels Are Up
Chapter 5 SOCIAL CONFIDENCE AND TRUST
Contemporary Performance Is Faulted, but "The System" Is Reaffirmed
Chapter 6 IN COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE
Two Cheers for American Exceptionalism
Appendix 1 "On the Role and Importance of Associations in America," by Alexis de Tocqueville
Appendix 2 An Honor Roll of American Philanthropy
The State of America's Civic Engagement: A Bibliography