Robert D. Putnam, a political scientist and professor, contends in his essay titled “Bowling Alone: America's Declining Social Capital” that there has been a decline in the social capital over the last several decades. He names that are different factors to explain this, including changes in the workforce, mobility, demographics, and technology. However, mostly it is a change in the behaviors of people.
The presence of social capital in civically engaged communities leads to better socioeconomic situations and an improved general quality of life. In his own research, he also found that in Italy the “levels of effectiveness [in regional governments] varied dramatically” and relates to the existence of civic engagement. Social capital can only produce benefits if utilized, just as monetary capital does little if not reinvested in the economy. Even if someone has many contacts in their address book the benefits of social capital can only be realized if at least some of them are engaged for socialization regularly. When people disassociate from groups they are less socially engaged. Democracy does not work as intended if a potential voter does not voice their opinion at the ballot box. He states that “voter turnout, newspaper readership, membership in choral societies and football clubs” were activities prevalent in successful areas. (Putnam 67) These each require active participa...
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...ad, we can communicate with more people and try new things to find social groups. These new bonds may be less solid, but they still have a great impact on our lives and how we do business with each other. Since we have so many connections the importance of a single connection has deflated, but not the need for connections as a whole.
I realize that the ability to socialize is an absolute necessity in this day and age, unless I elect to live isolated on some mountain away from civilization. Since I’m here, I know that we have to get along with each other. If we do not then life will be miserable. This exercise and Putnam’s essay enlightened me to the benefits of social interactions.
Putnam, Robert. "Bowling Alone." Xroads.virginia.edu. Journal of Democracy 6:1, Jan. 1995.
Web. 24 Apr. 2011.
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