Bowling Alone

What is Social capital?

Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone article





Social capital
is the networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society, enabling that society to function effectively.

The glue of politics + society.


How many of you have someone who would bring you ice cream if you called?
How many of you have 3 people who would do this? 5? More? Why is this important?

“If you don’t go to somebody’s funeral, they won’t go to yours.” Yogi Berra

Is social capital good?

Your chance of dying in the next year is cut by ½ by joining a group. Why is that?

The US used to have a ton of social capital (glue for the fabric). Now we are dissolving into our own individual bubbles.

What is going on with Social Capital in the US?

How is your social capital?

Take Social Capital Quiz and discuss your results and why it matters.

What has declined?







PTA is down from 12 million in 1964 to 5 million in 1982
League Bowling is down 40% since 1980 but individual bowling is up 10%
Friends over to the house. 1975 average of 15 times a year
1995 average of 8 times a year
1/3 decline in the frequency of families eating together since 1977
The number of people living alone had doubled since 1977
¾ of all Americans don’t know their next door neighbor


Where are we headed?

What has caused the decline in social capital?






Commonweal!
Take Causes of Declining Social Capital Quiz

1-Changes in family and work structures



Describe your family and work

Real wages are down since 1973


1950 women = 50 hours housework/week, men = 4
2000 women =16, men = 6

What has happened to work over the past half century?
Between 1973 and 2000 the average American employee added 199 hours to his annual work schedule (5, 40 hour weeks)
Meanwhile, they doubled real consumption expenditures
Do Americans work too much?

The average American only takes 13 days a year of vacation.
The U.S. remains the only industrialized country in the world that has no legally mandated annual leave.
1. Some 88 percent of Americans carry electronic devices while on vacation to communicate with work, and 40 percent log-on to check their work email.
2. A third of all Americans don't take their allotted vacation and 37 percent never take more than a week at a time.
Many employees have no choice because they are at the bottom of the pay scale and are forced to work to make ends meet. A third of all women and a quarter of all men receive no paid vacation. We've been globalized, downsized and privatized until we are little more than production units.
We work more to make ends meet.
Meanwhile, those who profit from our labor amass wealth. For the fifth consecutive year in a row the average American's income remained below what it was in 2000. Those making over $1 million a year (less than a quarter of one percent of all taxpayers) increased their incomes 26 percent.

2-Mobility

Describe your family in terms of mobility, commute, house size.
Sprawl: Suburbs and now exurbs
Each ten minutes of commute = negative 10% of social capital
Americans spend more than 100 hours commuting to work each year, according to American Community Survey (ACS) data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. This exceeds the two weeks of vacation time (80 hours) frequently taken by workers over the course of a year. For the nation as a whole, the average daily commute to work lasted about 24.3 minutes in 2003.

The average American moves 7 times in their life
The average American lives in a home for 3 years

The size of the average American home has more than doubled over the past half-century. The most recent statistics from the National Association of Home Builders show that the average American home grew from 983 square feet in 1950 to 2,434 square feet in 2005. In 1950, only one percent of homes built had four bedrooms or more, but 39 percent of new homes had at least four bedrooms in 2003. Garages have become almost obligatory, with only eight percent of new homes built without a garage, as opposed to 53 percent built without one in 1950. 


Describe your family in relation to mobility
Here's some social capital charts that will make your blood boil.

3-Technology
How does technology connect to social capital?
Almost all the free time we’ve gotten from technology goes to TV.
Do schools build social capital?
Does technology drive a wedge between individual + collective interests?
How would our world change if we were less technologically advanced?
What do you imagine social capital is like for the Amish or for Afghanis?
Discuss the technological bubble. Can technology increase social capital?
How does the internet affect your on-line discourse?
How does social capital connect to capitalism and individualism?
What does wealth and progress do to social capital?
Can we have virtual social capital?

4-Generational Change

From community to individual values thanks to increased technology and wealth



What are the effects of lower social capital? Why does it matter?
Social Capital Index charts
What do we gain with higher social capital?

Discuss political effects
1970 75% of Americans trusted each other
Today 70% of Americans say people can’t be trusted
2/3 of Americans say that most people are looking out for themselves
Stop Sign overhead
Democracy is based on trust. You have to trust others with vote.
Compromise is less likely in a virtual world that’s not connected
You have to trust others when you lose vote.

Happiness chart

The future and the history
Social capital at the end of the 19th century was similar to today.
The US had gone through a great number of revolutions and social changes:
Industrialization, technological change, civil war, emancipation, immigration, migration
There are many parallels between that time and now. Social dislocation, high mobility, income gap, alienation.
What revolutions have we been through over the past forty years?
Civil rights, women’s movement, gay rights, great migration to suburbs and beyond, immigration, internet revolution.
At the end of the 19th century we built great institutions to deal with the new landscape.
Today, your generation’s charge is to do the same. Is it happening?

What are solutions to the decline of social capital?
Individuals brainstorm solutions

Groups of four create one real solution to build social capital at school, local, or national level
Students must submit a one paragraph draft proposal at the end of class today

Criticisms
What criticisms do you have of Robert Putnam’s thesis?
If you write Putnam a real letter and get a real response I will give you 10 points extra credit on your final trimester grade.








Bowling Alone
Look at the facts and figures below and at the attached charts and graphs.

Women
Hours of housework per week
Men
Hours of housework per week
1950 50 4
2000 16 6

Real wages (what your income can actually buy) are down since 1973.
Between 1973 and 2000 the average American employee added 199 hours to his annual work schedule, which is equal to five, 40-hour weeks!

For the seventh consecutive year in a row the average American's income remained below what it was in 2000.

31.1 million Americans live alone according to the 2007 census. That’s 27% of all households, up from 17% in 1970.

According to Robert Putnam, each ten minutes of commute takes away 10% of a person’s social capital. Americans spend more than 100 hours commuting to work each year, according to American Community Survey (ACS) data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. This exceeds the two weeks of vacation time (80 hours) frequently taken by workers over the course of a year. For the nation as a whole, the average daily commute to work lasted about 24.3 minutes in 2003.

The average American moves 7 times in their life. The average American lives in a home for 3 years.

The size of the average American home has more than doubled over the past half-century. The most recent statistics from the National Association of Home Builders show that the average American home grew from 983 square feet in 1950 to 2,434 square feet in 2005. In 1950, only one percent of homes built had four bedrooms or more, but 39 percent of new homes had at least four bedrooms in 2003. Garages have become almost obligatory, with only eight percent of new homes built without a garage, as opposed to 53 percent built without one in 1950. 


Average Vacation Time around the world
Italy 42 days
France 37 days
Germany 35 days
Brazil 34 days
United Kingdom 28 days
Canada 26 days
Korea 25 days
Japan 25 days
U.S. 13 days
Social capital Quiz


How much social capital do you have?

Give yourself 1 point for each of the following

  1. Regularly participate with political party/interest group
  2. Attended a public meeting in the past year
  3. Attended a political rally/event in the past year
  4. Volunteer regularly
  5. Regularly attend synagogue/temple/mosque/church
  6. Know the names of one half of the people on your block
  7. Play on a sports team
  8. Can name our mayor, US representative, and US Senators
  9. Member of a club/organization that meets regularly
  10. Go out more than one night a weekend

Points
10 – 9 League Bowler extraordinaire
8 – 7 Social Capitalist
6 – 5 Civic Activist
4 – 3 In Training
2 – 0 Bowling Alone

Social Capital Questions
  1. How did you score on the quiz?
  2. How would the US, in general, score on the quiz?
  3. How does social capital affect political systems?
  4. How does trust relate to democracy?











Causes Of Declining Social Capital



Which is the biggest culprit causing the decline of social capital in our community? Rank the following 1 = most responsible for the decline in social capital
10 = least responsible for the decline in social capital
  • TV
  • Internet
  • Cell phones
  • Economic competition
  • Pace of life
  • Working women
  • Cars and cheap oil
  • Suburbanization and sprawl
  • Mobility
  • Wealth

“Television is a medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome.”
T.S. Eliot


Edward Hopper
City Sunlight

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