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, which The Economist hailed as "a prodigious achievement".
Drawing on vast new data that reveal Americans' changing behavior, Putnam shows how we have become increasingly disconnected from one another and how social structures - whether they be PTA, church, or political parties - have disintegrated. Until the publication of this groundbreaking work, no one had so deftly diagnosed the harm that these broken bonds have wreaked on our physical and civic health, nor had anyone exalted their fundamental power in creating a society that is happy, healthy, and safe.
Like defining works from the past, such as The Lonely Crowd and The Affluent Society, and like the works of C. Wright Mills and Betty Friedan, Putnam's Bowling Alone has identified a central crisis at the heart of our society and suggests what we can do.
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Dry and probably better read than listened to.
Not applicable for this book.
There are no characters per se, but Arthur Morey was a competent reader. His professorial sounding voice was appropriate for this book.
There are no characters.
Bowling Alone is a sociology textbook. Some authors can write textbooks in such a way that they capture the attention of a lay listener not in the field. This is not one of those books. It's very dry. The book sounded interesting and in many ways was interesting. It was written right around 2000 and much of the data comes from the 1990s and earlier, but in my estimation the trend of lowered civic disengagement has only continued. The book's prescience is one of its strongest qualities.
My biggest annoyance with listening to this book is the authors tendency to list everything over and over. The first time he says "across all demographics" or "types of civic engagement" and then proceeds to list 10 examples each of those things is okay. It's when he does it for the fifth or tenth time that it gets really annoying. If I were reading this book, I would just quickly scan every example of a demographic without really reading it. With the audible version, the listener has to sit through the author telling you that old people are a demographic several times.
My second biggest annoyance, and I'll append the review if this turns out to be wrong, is that the author doesn't really have a cause for the reduction in civic participation. He has a few strong correlations (like TV), but not causation. Also, because the author is unwilling (perhaps in his role as a social scientist is unable) to make a moral judgments or draw moral hypotheses, I think he leaves out potential reasons why civic engagement has dropped. To people stop going to church because they spend too much time watching TV or because they stopped believing in God? The former explored; the latter is not.
- John Marciano
amazing research and well-written
- Christopher C. Bischel