Customer Review

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wake up call, 5 Jan. 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (Paperback)
This book brilliantly identifies something that most of us were aware of at some level - the fact that the level of social awareness and engagement is dropping in contemporary societies. Where the book is important is in detailed analysis and interpretation of seemingly rock-solid data. The conclusions are difficult to argue with. Television, generational attitudes, urban sprawl and the pressures of work have combined to fragment communities and contribute to an unhealthy level of social isolation.
Don't be put off however by the detailed references to statistical analysis. Putnam is like everybody's favourite lecturer - somebody with the skill to make a potentially dry area of research into hot news that has to be heard and discussed.
This book refers to American societies. Why then should anybody outside of the U.S. read it? Well, try these reasons:
- Certain causes have certain effects no matter where you are. Extra commuting time, for example, will always lead to less community time.
- Many Western societies are either evolving towards an American model or at least have the potential to do so. Those of us outside of the U.S have a chance to make things different.
- Reading Putnam's discussions of the ill effects of lack of community would lead one to suppose that this too could be at the root of some problems worldwide. These surveys need to be conducted anywhere that concern exists for the preservation of community structures.
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