Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community Hardcover – Jun 1 2000
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Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community
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Top Customer Reviews
However, while Bowling Alone does a good job illustrating the loss of community involvement, the last fifteen chapters of the book, which discuss the causes of civic disengagement, and how it can be reversed, are seriously wrong. Just to start, Putnam overlooks many of the events of the last forty years. He pejoratively notes that Americans have become more individualist and distrustful of institutions, but he gives little notice to the Vietnam War, Watergate, the failed War on Poverty, and the inummerable political, corporate, and institutional scandals, which have led to this culture of skepticism.
Furthermore, the book ignores the role of centralized government and litigiousness in weakening communities. People are less likely to vote or get involved in political affairs because top-down bureaucratic mandates and endless lawsuits have undermined local democracy. Putnam laments the drop in the number of Americans who vote, attend town meetings, or write to their Congressman, but does not realize that much of this apathy is comes from the fact that many Americans perhaps rightly believe that these activities are a waste of time. Why should a person give up several hours of their time to go to a town meeting when any decision of significance made at the meeting may be overturned by a federal judge or blocked by a Washington bureaucrat?Read more ›
I agree that society is disconnecting as families, neighbors, communities morph and change. The author lays blame with television, two-career families, suburban sprawl, and changes in values (imagine what the updated book would say about social media!). This loss of community means an underlying loss of reciprocity. It also means that trust is breaking down because people are not doing things for each other nor developing relationships of meaning or value. This is somewhat explained by the difference in bridging (or inclusive) social capital and bonding (or exclusive) social capital. Reciprocity, honesty and trustworthiness are encouraged by dense social networks and we are not building these anymore.
The section on suburbia grows more relevant. "The suburb is the last word in privatization, perhaps even its lethal consummation and it spells the end of authentic civic life," so wrote Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk. More powerfully, urbanist Lewis Mumford said, "suburbia is a collective effort to lead a private life." And Kenneth T. Jackson is even more direct, "There are few places as desolate and lonely as a suburban street on a hot afternoon." The suburbs have contributed to an isolation that includes 72 minutes of commuting each day.Read more ›
Putnam also laments the decline of the various fraternal organizations that sprang up in the first quarter of the twentieth century. Groups like the Elks, the Knights of Columbus and the VFW are all struggling to survive. No one joins groups like these anymore and that is really a shame. Our communities are the big losers because the services provided by these organizations have either disappeared or have had to be assumed by the government.
This is an extremely thought provoking book. Putnam certainly diagnoses the problems and offers up some solutions. But these problems are not easily solved. If the events of 9/11 did not wake us all up, then one has to wonder if anything will.
Most recent customer reviews
Excellent! In very good condition! Very fast delivery! I'm a satisfied consumer!Excellent! In very good condition! Very fast delivery! I'm a satisfied consumer!Excellent! Read morePublished on Sept. 24 2011 by MaxPero
Putnam's book presents a detailed look at the decline in overall social participation by Americans over the past half-century. Read morePublished on June 24 2004 by FoxNewsFan
This is a powerhouse study on a subject that would hardly seem worthy of such attention to many Americans. Read morePublished on April 3 2004 by doomsdayer520
Putnam is correct in noting that Americans are increasingly disconnected and alienated from each other. The same thing is happening in Australia where I live. Read morePublished on March 9 2004
The concept of "Social Capital," as it is discussed in Bowling Alone (Putnam 2001) is an attempt to quantify the loss of community connectedness that has been happening over the... Read morePublished on Dec 14 2003 by Steven D. Ward
I read this book about 2 years ago for a class. It was just horrible, and I am shocked that smart people can read this and not see it for what it is. Read morePublished on Oct. 21 2003
I found Bowling Alone to be the most important book I've read in a long time. It gives us an honest but sympathetic portraitof the increasing lonely and unconnected American... Read morePublished on July 27 2003 by Steve Rose