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Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community

01 Jan 2000-

AbstractBOWLING ALONE warns Americans that their stock of "social capital", the very fabric of their connections with each other, has been accelerating down. Putnam describes the resulting impoverishment of their lives and communities. Drawing on evidence that includes nearly half a million interviews conducted over a quarter of a century in America, Putnam shows how changes in work, family structure, age, suburban life, television, computers, women's roles and other factors are isolating Americans from each other in a trend whose reflection can clearly be seen in British society. We sign 30 percent fewer petitions than we did ten years ago. Membership in organisations- from the Boy Scouts to political parties and the Church is falling. Ties with friends and relatives are fraying: we're 35 percent less likely to visit our neighbours or have dinner with our families than we were thirty years ago. We watch sport alone instead of with our friends. A century ago, American citizens' means of connecting were at a low point after decades of urbanisation, industrialisation and immigration uprooted them from families and friends. That generation demonstrated a capacity for renewal by creating the organisations that pulled Americans together. Putnam shows how we can learn from them and reinvent common enterprises that will make us secure, productive, happy and hopeful.

Topics: Boy Scouts (51%), Civic engagement (51%) more

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Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: A growing number of sociologists, political scientists, economists, and organizational theorists have invoked the concept of social capital in the search for answers to a broadening range of questions being confronted in their own fields. Seeking to clarify the concept and help assess its utility for organizational theory, we synthesize the theoretical research undertaken in these various disciplines and develop a common conceptual framework that identifies the sources, benefits, risks, and contingencies of social capital.

7,925 citations

08 Sep 2020
TL;DR: A review of the comparative database from across the behavioral sciences suggests both that there is substantial variability in experimental results across populations and that WEIRD subjects are particularly unusual compared with the rest of the species – frequent outliers.
Abstract: Behavioral scientists routinely publish broad claims about human psychology and behavior in the world's top journals based on samples drawn entirely from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) societies. Researchers - often implicitly - assume that either there is little variation across human populations, or that these "standard subjects" are as representative of the species as any other population. Are these assumptions justified? Here, our review of the comparative database from across the behavioral sciences suggests both that there is substantial variability in experimental results across populations and that WEIRD subjects are particularly unusual compared with the rest of the species - frequent outliers. The domains reviewed include visual perception, fairness, cooperation, spatial reasoning, categorization and inferential induction, moral reasoning, reasoning styles, self-concepts and related motivations, and the heritability of IQ. The findings suggest that members of WEIRD societies, including young children, are among the least representative populations one could find for generalizing about humans. Many of these findings involve domains that are associated with fundamental aspects of psychology, motivation, and behavior - hence, there are no obvious a priori grounds for claiming that a particular behavioral phenomenon is universal based on sampling from a single subpopulation. Overall, these empirical patterns suggests that we need to be less cavalier in addressing questions of human nature on the basis of data drawn from this particularly thin, and rather unusual, slice of humanity. We close by proposing ways to structurally re-organize the behavioral sciences to best tackle these challenges.

4,860 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In a meta-analysis, Julianne Holt-Lunstad and colleagues find that individuals' social relationships have as much influence on mortality risk as other well-established risk factors for mortality, such as smoking.
Abstract: Background The quality and quantity of individuals' social relationships has been linked not only to mental health but also to both morbidity and mortality. Objectives This meta-analytic review was conducted to determine the extent to which social relationships influence risk for mortality, which aspects of social relationships are most highly predictive, and which factors may moderate the risk. Data Extraction Data were extracted on several participant characteristics, including cause of mortality, initial health status, and pre-existing health conditions, as well as on study characteristics, including length of follow-up and type of assessment of social relationships. Results Across 148 studies (308,849 participants), the random effects weighted average effect size was OR = 1.50 (95% CI 1.42 to 1.59), indicating a 50% increased likelihood of survival for participants with stronger social relationships. This finding remained consistent across age, sex, initial health status, cause of death, and follow-up period. Significant differences were found across the type of social measurement evaluated (p<0.001); the association was strongest for complex measures of social integration (OR = 1.91; 95% CI 1.63 to 2.23) and lowest for binary indicators of residential status (living alone versus with others) (OR = 1.19; 95% CI 0.99 to 1.44). Conclusions The influence of social relationships on risk for mortality is comparable with well-established risk factors for mortality. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary

4,109 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: In the 1990s the concept of social capital defined here as the norms and networks that enable people to act collectively enjoyed a remarkable rise to prominence across all the social science disciplines. The authors trace the evolution of social capital research as it pertains to economic development and identify four distinct approaches the research has taken : communitarian, networks, institutional, and synergy. The evidence suggests that of the four, the synergy view, with its emphasis on incorporating different levels and dimensions of social capital and its recognition of the positive and negative outcomes that social capital can generate, has the greatest empirical support and lends itself best to comprehensive and coherent policy prescriptions. The authors argue that a significant virtue of the idea of and discourse on social capital is that it helps to bridge orthodox divides among scholars, practitioners, and policymakers.

3,871 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Objective. County-level socioeconomic and demographic data were used to construct an index of social vulnerability to environmental hazards, called the Social Vulnerability Index (SoVI) for the United States based on 1990 data. Methods. Using a factor analytic approach, 42 variables were reduced to 11 independent factors that accounted for about 76 percent of the variance. These factors were placed in an additive model to compute a summary score—the Social Vulnerability Index. Results. There are some distinct spatial patterns in the SoVI, with the most vulnerable counties clustered in metropolitan counties in the east, south Texas, and the Mississippi Delta region. Conclusion. Those factors that contribute to the overall score often are different for each county, underscoring the interactive nature of social vulnerability—some components increase vulnerability; others moderate the effects.

3,608 citations