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, Bowling Alone, which The Economist hailed as "a prodigious achievement."
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.
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Since the turn of the twenty-first century, fewer and fewer Americans are
socializing through membership organizations.5 The decline in church
membership and church attendance, two other phenomena Bowling Alone
detailed, has not only ...
Attendance at political meetings and campaign rallies has followed a similar
trajectory over the last half century—up from the 1950s to the 1960s, instability in
the 1970s, and general decline since the 1980s.20 (Figure 3 charts these trends.)
Among the college educated, attendance at public meetings was nearly halved
from 34 percent to 18 percent. On the other hand, because the less educated
were less involved to begin with, in relative terms their rates of participation have
... the social structure.”24 Over these two decades informal socializing with
friends and relatives declined by about 10 percent, organizational memberships
fell by 16 percent, and church attendance (a topic that we shall address more
Robert D. Putnam. church attendance (a topic that we shall address more directly
in a moment) declined by 20 percent. Examined more closely, these surveys
found significant declines in membership in unions; church groups; fraternal and
What people are saying - Write a review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - jonerthon - LibraryThing
Probably the last of the older titles that has been on my reading list too long. Though it is dated in some ways, I was glad to finally get through this one and understand why so many planners have ... Read full review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - ddonahue - LibraryThing
The present withdrawal of the individual from social organizations now resembles the situation after WW I as depicted in Chapter IX of Eckstein's Rites of Spring, in which he describes veteran's eschewal of social commitments. Read full review