Bowling Alone

By Robert D. Putnam,

Book cover of Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community

Book description

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, Bowling Alone, which The Economist hailed as "a prodigious achievement."

Drawing on vast new data that reveal Americans' changing behavior,…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked Bowling Alone as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This book has changed my personal and professional life. It has made me aware of how essential social interaction and civic engagement are to the health of communities and nations. It made me want to become more involved in organizations, get to know my neighbors and integrate social capital into just about everything I write and every course I teach.

It is loaded with information, charts, and graphs and can be a slog to read cover to cover. However, it is also essential to understand what is happening today.

If you are looking for an “Eureka!” moment while reading about celebrity, you can start with Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone, first published in 2000 and re-issued with a new preface in 2020.

Putnam convincingly shows how Americans have become increasingly disconnected – from bowling leagues, from PTAs, neighborhood associations, from all forms of membership organizations.

Why did this happen? Putnam blames television and now the fragmented internet for the decline in these civic assets. I think that, more specifically, celebrity has become the opiate of the masses.

Celebrity worship has become a weapon of mass distraction. We suffer from an…

When I first realized that community could be the secret ingredient to creating a better society, I started looking for an in-depth book on the subject – and was stunned to find how most of the books available were superficial. The exception is Putnam’s masterwork. He led the research, but after publishing his original paper in 1995, nearly 50 other academics helped produce the results described in his 2000 book. It is a serious read! But Putnam writes well, lightening the statistics with humour, and this is the landmark book on community. In 2012, Barack Obama awarded Putnam the National…

From Keith's list on how community can save society.

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