The Upswing

By Robert D. Putnam,

Book cover of The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It

Book description

'The most important book in social science for many years' Paul Collier, TLS Books of the Year

The Upswing is Robert D. Putnam's brilliant analysis of economic, social, cultural and political trends from the Gilded Age to the present, showing how America went from an individualistic 'I' society to a…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked The Upswing as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Robert Putnam and Shaylyn Romney Garrett provide an analysis of the past 125 years of American history that makes a significant contribution to the growing movement to reform American Society. They carefully analyze trends in American life in a way that delineates the tangle of problems we are currently experiencing while at the same time offering hope that we can overcome them. The essence of their analysis is that across a wide variety of societal indicators, the past century and a quarter has involved an upswing in prosocial or communitarian norms and practices, beginning in the progressive era of the…

The Upswing is the culminating triumph of Robert Putnam’s work on ‘social capital’, - the glue that binds people into a community. Although his book charts the trajectory of an American tragedy – the erosion of community in America over the past 60 years, it comes with an uplifting message. He shows that America has climbed out of a society rabid in self-obsession before. That upswing began around 1900 and was build bottom-up, as people came together, community-by-community. What happened then – an ‘inflection point’ in which new ideas and brute shocks combined to change the downward trajectory, is underway…

From Paul's list on how to renew our divided societies.

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