Social Capital In Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone

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In Robert Putnam’s book Bowling Alone, published in 2000, technology and mass media both represent a trend and “counter-trend” to increasingly low levels of social capital. While the development of technology such as television and the decline of appointment viewing have resulted in the ever-increasing isolation of American society, and although Putnam argues that “the single most important consequence of the television revolution was to bring us home” we also can now observe that the development of the internet and its explosion of easier forms of communication deepen our ties with each other. The advent of contemporary telecommunications has created a new and renewed capability to make and maintain ties that while perhaps not entirely offsetting the impacts of television, are significant in and of themselves. In spite of this seemingly unclear struggle between technology and social capital, it is clear that Putnam viewed the advent of television as ultimately precipitating a rapid decline in social capital that calls into question the strength of American society at the end of the twentieth century. While this argument is empirically well supported in the book, Putnam in large part fails to spend sufficient…show more content…
Putnam defines it as “.... the connections among individuals- social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them.” Although he sets out this definition of social capital in the first chapter, it continues to evolve over the course of the book. As Putnam proceeds to develop his central premise that social capital and the resulting quality of life have declined in the United States, it he continually adapts his definition of social capital by broadening
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