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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But before I knew it, I found myself in the middle of a deluge of discussion, debate
, and dissent around the questions it provoked. Were more and more Americans
indeed bowling—as well as worshipping, picnicking, politicking, and engaging ...
More often, both lay readers and academic experts were concerned with the
question of causes. Why had social capital declined so precipitously during the
latter half of the twentieth century? The past two decades have witnessed
And I have found that by far the most instructive exercise in my exploration of this
question has been to widen the lens on the period of history I was aiming to
understand and explain. Bowling Alone looked specifically at the second half of
One of the questions on the final exam was, “What would Robert Putnam say
about ______?” The students decided in midexam to call my office to ask me
what I would say! I heard from a great many people wanting to connect with me ...
And I've long reflected on the question of why Bowling Alone struck such a chord.
I tried conscientiously to write simultaneously for two different audiences—the
scholarly and the public. The former turns out to have been unexpectedly
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