One of the books we read this semester was called Bowling Alone, and no it is not about the sport of bowling, much less actually bowling alone. It is about fostering social capital in America. Back in the early to mid 1900s, people were involved in social groups, clubs, and organizations within their community. Everyone was involved, but over the past few decades involvement has dwindled, leading some to believe that social capital in America is non- existent. Before we can explore this book further, we must define social capital. According to Robert D. Putnam, the author of Bowling Alone, “The core idea of social capital theory is that social networks have value.” Basically, being connected with others is beneficial to ones life, and as a member of a group you are able to accomplish more. Life is more meaningful when you have friends, and someone to share happiness and trust with.
Do you think that social capital is lacking in today’s society?
Unfortunately, Putnam failed to take into account the age of social media, mainly in part that Bowling Alone was published before such a term existed. The question now becomes in this day and age, “Does social media foster social capital?” Being connected with hundreds, perhaps even thousands of people, at the click of a mouse does create a network of individuals. On the other hand, can social capital really happen in the digital world? Social capital has always been within ones community, and now since the rise of technology has created a global community, is this still social capital?
Overall, we think Putnam made valid claims about the diminishing amount of social capital in the United States, mainly in groups and clubs. We think that he should write a newer version of Bowling Alone and comment on the addition of social media to the equation.
-Allison Day, Jessica Berinson, Megan Canny, Melissa Gagliardi, Scott Burgess