Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social capital
recently there is evidence shown by neo-tocquevillean (type of thinking) that the quality of
public life and the performance of social institutions are powerfully influenced by norms and
networks of civic engagement.
civic engagement and social connectedness produce better schools, faster economic
development, lower crime, and more effective government.
social capital refers to features of social organization such as networks, norms, and
social trust that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit.
life is easier in a community blessed with a substantial stock of social capital.
networks of civic engagement foster sturdy norms of generalized reciprocity and
encourage the emergence of social trust.
it has been noted that as democracy has been in active in america, americans’ direct
engagement in politics and government has fallen steadily over the last generation, even
though the average levels of education have risen sharply.
could have been the war politics, assassinations which led to the withdrawal of
religious affiliation is by far the most common associational membership among americans.
americans remain to be the highest ‘churched society’ compared to other nations on
though, religious sentiment in american seem to be less tired to institutions and more
though since 1960s, religious services and church related groups has declined modestly.
now, for many years, labour unions have provided as one of the most common organizational
affiliation among american workers.
yet, membership has been falling nearly four decades.
- furthermore, the parents teacher association which have been an especially important form
of civic engagement in 20 century america have also declining. It is a productive form of
social capital. but this capital has been declining.
there has been alot of declining of civic engagement.
however it is noted that there is alot more americans bowling today than ever even though
bowling leagues are decreasing.
many new mass-membership organizations formed
american association of retired persons, sierra club, feminist groups etc although, these mass groups have caused the rise of a new definition ‘tertiary associations’
as vast majority of their members do not engagement much activity. they only simple pay
dues or maybe reading the newsletters.
the theory of social capital argues that associational membership should, increase social
trust, but this prediction is much less straightforward with regard to membership in tertiary
the rise of non-profit organizations also represents one reason for the decline in many
- most secondary associations are non profits, most nonprofit agencies are not secondary
there is also a rise in support groups, which suggests social connectedness. 40% of all
americans are currently in a small group that meets regularly and provides support.
however, they do not typically play the same role as traditional civic associations.
small groups may not foster community effectively.
they merely provide occasions for individuals to focus on themselves in the
presence of others.
the social contract that binds them together is weak. there are not much ‘set’
rules and you can talk whenever you wish.
tertiary organizations, nonprofit organizations and support groups somehow, lead to some
erosion of conventional civic organizations.
Broken down by type of group, the downward trend