Summary Of Bowling Alone: America's Declining Social Capital

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Civil society can refer to a body of citizens who participate in collective activity through associations. Within his article Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital, neo-Tockquevillean Robert Putnam argues that civil society is vital for the perpetuation of democracy. His primary evidence relies on the level of political participation citizens engage in through association. Through the case study of the United States of America, he notes that when Americans are not able to carry out their duties as citizens, whether it be through voting or attending political rallies, the system of representative democracy is impacted (291). Furthermore, according to Putnam, civil society is good for democracy as the level of trust in the government increases with greater civic participation. Through the concept of social capital, Putnam states that civic engagements increase social trust which then translates into successful political outcomes (292). Therefore, without civil society, democracy …show more content…

Berman argues that the central problem of Germany that accommodated the actions of the Nazi Party involved the weak political institutions of the state such as political parties (402). Without strong political parties to respond to the demands of German citizens as whole, the German society in both the Wilhelmine and Weimar eras lacked trust and common interests. Berman argues that associationism can only benefit democratic societies when the state has adequate political institutions that are able to channel the demands of the various groups (427). Therefore, although Berman is not necessarily against civil society, she argues that strong and legitimate political institutions must serve as preconditions in order for democracy to

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