Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community

From Metapedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Bowling Alone
Cover of the first English edition
Author(s) Robert D. Putnam
Cover artist Edith Fowler
Country London
Language English
Genre(s) Social Science
Publisher Touchstone Books by Simon & Schuster
Publication year 2000
Pages 544
ISBN 0743203046

Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community


Once we bowled in leagues, usually after work—but no longer. This seemingly small phenomenon symbolizes a significant social change that Robert Putnam has identified in this brilliant volume, which The Economist hailed as “a prodigious achievement.”

Drawing on vast new data that reveal Americans’ changing behavior, Putnam shows how we have become increasingly disconnected from one another and how social structures—whether they be PTA, church, or political parties—have disintegrated. Until the publication of this groundbreaking work, no one had so deftly diagnosed the harm that these broken bonds have wreaked on our physical and civic health, nor had anyone exalted their fundamental power in creating a society that is happy, healthy, and safe.

Like defining works from the past, such as The Lonely Crowd and The Affluent Society, and like the works of C. Wright Mills and Betty Friedan, Putnam’s Bowling Alone has identified a central crisis at the heart of our society and suggests what we can do.

About The Author

Robert D. Putnam is the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University. Nationally honored as a leading humanist and a renowned scientist, he has written fourteen books and has consulted for the last four US Presidents. His research program, the Saguaro Seminar, is dedicated to fostering civic engagement in America. Visit[1]

Book Endorsements

“This is a very important book; it's the de Tocqueville of our generation. And you don't often hear an academic like me say those sorts of things."

Wendy Rahn, The Washington Post

“A powerful argument… Presented in a lucid and readable way.”

Alan Ehrenhalt, The Wall Street Journal

“A learned and clearly focused snapshot of a crucial moment in American history."

Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune

“An ambitious book… Bowling Alone is a prodigious achievement. Mr. Putnam's scholarship is wide-ranging, his intelligence luminous, his tone modest, his prose unpretentious and frequently funny.

The Economist

“An important work that is likely to be the center of much debate… Books of sociological insight as readable and significant as David Reisman's Lonely Crowd and C. Wright Mill's Power Elite, long seldom. Putnam's work belongs in their company.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Putnam can be fliply hip. But mainly he has learned… The book… Is responsible, intricate, and balanced… Full of convincing detail.”

Michael Pakenham, The Baltimore Sun

“Deserves to be compared to such classic works as The Lonely Crowd and The Affluent Society.”

John Atlas, Newark Star-Ledger

“it's 400 pages or crowned with statistics and analysis that seek to document civic decline in the United States…. Bowling Alone is to be commended for stimulating awareness of civic engagement and providing a wealth of data on trends in contemporary America.”

Francis Fukuyama, The Washington Post

“A mountainous, momentous, work… This is no professorial popgun attempting the crossover from classroom to mass-market; it is an antitank gun of an argument, relentlessly researched and heavily armored against academic counter assault…. A fabric of stunning comprehensiveness. [Putnam's] put his finger on an important sociological development.”

David Nyhan, The Boston Globe

"In this alarming an important study, Putnam charts the previous deterioration over the past two generations of the organized ways in which people relate to one another and partake in civil life in the U.S.... marshaling a plentiful array of facts, figures, charts, and survey results, Putnam delivers his message with verve and clarity...[and offers] a ray of hope in what he perceives to be a dire situation."

— [Publishers Weekly]

" A formidable book... there is no place, and my knowledge, or so much about the current disconnectedness of American society has been uncovered, assembled, and presented as in the text, charts, and notes within [ Bowling Alone]."

Curtis Gans, Washington Monthly

"The strength of Putnam's book is not its theoretical or conceptual novelty but it's accumulation and sifting of data...[Putnam] lays out with considerable precision and far more subtlety than he has yet been given credit for, the trends in civic engagement and social capital in all aspects of life."

Benjamin Barber, The Nation

"Bowling alone provides important new data on the trends in civic engagement and social capital, a revised analysis of the causes of the decline, and exploration of its consequences, and ideas about what might be done. The book will not settle the debate, but it is a formidable achievement. It will henceforth be impossible to discuss these issues knowledgeably without reading Putnam's book and thinking about it."

Paul Starr, The New Republic

"Bowling Alone is well worth reading. Topic is important, and the passion infectious. Putnam get to thinking about the challenges to community in a high-tech economy."

Christopher Farrell, BusinessWeek

“a provocative discussion. [Putnam] shows us the real problems… And offers some broad-based goals that will help us connect better with one another.”

Inc. Magazine

“This book deserves a wide audience. It deals seriously and imaginatively with one of the most urgent problems of our time.

Sanford D. Horwitt, The Industry Standard

Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone is an eloquent and powerful contribution to a long tradition of important reassessments of the American condition. His argument—buttressed by impressive scholarly research—that the United States has lost much of the social glue that once allowed our society to cohere, that we are in danger of becoming a nation of strangers to one another without adequate social bonds, is certain to become a central part of our national conversation."

Alan Brinkley, author of Liberalism and Its Discontents

“Plainly argued and compulsively readable…[Bowling Alone] is an agenda setting book that will be the starting point of discussion and debate for years to come”

Mark Chaves, The Christian Century

Bowling Alone is a tour de force. Robert Putnam has amassed an impressive array of evidence for his original and powerful thesis on the decline of social capital and civic engagement in the past several decades. This thought-provoking book will stimulate huge academic national public policy debates on the crisis of the American community.”

William Julius Wilson, Harvard University

“Robert Putnam's bowling alone is a must read.”

Diane Ravitch, author of Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reforms

“Whether you agree with the central thesis of bowling alone, Putnam's argument deserves to be seriously considered but everyone interested in our social well-being. Each of us should read Bowling Alone alone— and then discuss it together.

William Kristol, editor and publisher, The Weekly Standard

“Concerns about the cost of progress for traditional community spirit and neighborliness are examined in a very readable manner by Robert Putnam's book Bowling Alone.”

— Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern

“Rich, dents, thoughtful, fascinating… Packed with provocative information about the social and political habits of 20th century Americans.”

Alan Ryan, The New York Review of Books

Table of Contents

Section I: Introduction

  • Chapter 1: Thinking About Social Change in America 15

Section II: Trends In Civic Engagement And Social Capital

  • Chapter 2: Political Participation 31
  • Chapter 3: Civic Participation 48
  • Chapter 4: Religious Participation 65
  • Chapter 5: Connections in the Workplace 80
  • Chapter 6: Informal Social Connections 93
  • Chapter 7: Altruism, Volunteering, and Philanthropy 116
  • Chapter 8: Reciprocity, Honesty, and Trust 134
  • Chapter 9: Against the Tide? Small Groups, Social Movements, and the Net 148

Section III: Why?

  • Chapter 10: Introduction 183
  • Chapter 11: Pressures of Time and Money 189
  • Chapter 12: Mobility and Sprawl 204
  • Chapter 13: Technology and Mass Media 216
  • Chapter 14: From Generation to Generation 247
  • Chapter 15: What Killed Civic Engagement? Summing Up 277

Section IV: So What?

  • Chapter 16: Introduction 287
  • Chapter 17: Education and Children's Welfare 296
  • Chapter 18: Safe and Productive Neighborhoods 307
  • Chapter 19: Economic Prosperity 319
  • Chapter 20: Health and Happiness 326
  • Chapter 21: Democracy 336
  • Chapter 22: The Dark Side of Social Capital 350

Section V: What Is To Be Done?

  • Chapter 23: Lessons of History: The Gilded Age and the Progressive Era 367
  • Chapter 24: Towards an Agenda for Social Capitalists 402
  • Appendix I: Measuring Social Change 415
  • Appendix II: Sources for Figures and Tables 425
  • Appendix III: The Rise and Fall of Civic and Professional Associations 437
  • Notes 445
  • The Story Behind this Book 505
  • Index 515

Books By Same Author


Publication Data

Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, Robert D. Putnam, 2000, Touchstone Books by Simon & Schuster, ISBN 0743203046