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 those very anomalies may contain important clues to what is happening.
American society, like the continent on which we live, is massive and
polymorphous, and our civic engagement historically has come in many sizes
decades, however, registration requirements in America have been greatly
relaxed. ... compare with those of the past, figure 1 traces presidential turnout in
southern and nonsouthern states over most of the history of the American
Outside the South the slide in electoral participation since 1960 is, by now, the
longest decline in American history, and voting in the 1996 and 1998 elections
was substantially lower than in any other presidential and off-year elections in ...
Many middle-aged Americans today recall how reluctantly their parents picked
up the phone for a long-distance call, well ... was inexorably driven downward.9
This generation gap in civic engagement, as we shall see, is common in
For example, fewer than one American in a hundred has run for public office in
the past twelve months. ... interviews provide exceptionally rich raw material for
compiling detailed civic statistics for Americans over more than two decades.
What people are saying - Write a review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - gmmoney - LibraryThing
I loved this book! A fascinating analysis of the decline of civic and social participation in American society. Every community organizer should read this. Putnam's prose is very accessible and his ... Read full review
BOWLING ALONE: The Collapse and Revival of American CommunityUser Review - Kirkus
A longer and much improved version of Putnam's controversial 1995 Journal of Democracy article of the same name, this is an important work that is likely to be the center of much debate. Books of ... Read full review