Making Sense of Social Media

Bowling Alone

The collapse and revival of American community

Photo by Bernyce Hollingworth

Robert Putnam

(New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000). In the book based on vast data, Putnam shows how we have become increasingly disconnected from family, friends, neighbors, and our democratic structures– and how we may reconnect.

Putnam warns that our stock of social capital – the very fabric of our connections with each other, has plummeted, impoverishing our lives and communities.

Putnam draws on evidence including nearly 500,000 interviews over the last quarter century to show that we sign fewer petitions, belong to fewer organisations that meet, know our neighbours less, meet with friends less frequently, and even socialise with our families less often. We’re even bowling alone. More Americans are bowling than ever before, but they are not bowling in leagues. Putnam shows how changes in work, family structure, age, suburban life, television, computers, women’s roles and other factors have contributed to this decline.