Bowling Alone Objects/Places
Social capital is the fellowship, social intercourse, and good will that occurs from a social unit. It is both a private good and a public
Reciprocity is giving to another, without knowing when or if the favor will be returned. Putnam argues that this is an important part
of social capital.
Bonding Social Capital
This type of social capital is more inward looking and creates exclusive groups. Examples may include country clubs and fraternal
Bridging Social Capital
Bridging social capital looks outward and brings together people from diverse social positions.
Small groups, such as reading groups and self-help groups, appear to be weathering the decline better than other types. Self-help
groups, in particular, appear to have added members over the last half century. These groups may provide support and social
capital to individuals who may not have other ways of getting it.
Communicating via the telephone or over the internet is somewhat of a double-edged sword. While this type of communication has
remained popular, it does cut down on face-to-face interactions. It is unclear what the long term effects of telecommunications will
be on society.
Putnam argues that financial pressures, particularly anxiety about finances, accounts for about ten percent of the overall decline in
civic participation. He also ties in the growth of women in the workforce, arguing that women who have to work out of necessity are
less likely to participate in civic affairs.
The sprawl caused by the growth of suburbs accounts for about ten percent in the decline of civic engagement, according to
Putnam. This sprawl takes time away from civic affairs and interferes with a community's boundedness.
The Mass Media
Putnam argues that television might account for about twenty-five percent of the overall decline in social connectedness and
participation. He argues that television is a solitary activity that increases passivity and lethargy and that it takes time away from
other activities, including civic engagement.
Putnam argues that generational change accounts for about half of the decline in civic participation. The generations after WWII
have focused more on the individual and have been less active in civic affairs than the generation born and raised before WWII.
The Gilded Age and Progressive Era
Americans in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century also experienced a decline in social capital. They responded by
forming new organizations and ways of participating to increase it age