Bowling Alone

The Collapse and Revival of American Community

In this alarming study, Putnam charts the deterioration of the organized ways in which people relate to one another in the United States. He concludes with a set of potential solutions, such as community-service programs.

541 pages. ©2000.
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Reader Reviews for this Book

Lissadavis

Review posted January 19, 2018

5

This book is a classic on community engagement, in spite of being 18 years old. True, the statistics are dated, but the basic premises are just as relevant today. Putnam's theory boils down to one thing...social capital is important for a civil society. Recent events (i.e., political protests) haven't been conducted by cohesive groups, but by unaffiliated groups of people banding together for a common cause. His ideas on the "Internet" and electronic communication was spot on for its time. However, he posits that computer mediated communication would complement, not replace face-to-face communications. It would be nice to see Putnam write a revised version, addressing this in more detail.

jamiesmith

Review posted January 16, 2018

4

It was a good book a LOT of information and charts.

Sebastian

Review posted January 14, 2018

5

An excellent account on the erosion of the concept of community in the United States. What is disturbing, however, is that this book was published in 2001 and 17 years later the decline of genuine community (the one that does not happen in cyberspace) has been exacerbated by the addiction to electronic gadgets that has alienated people even more; from others, nature, and worst of all, themselves.

emufarm100

Review posted January 4, 2018

4

This book raises a crucial question about the splintering and erosion of our communities. While perhaps posing more questions than answers, and while slightly dated, it offers an introduction to many of the problems plaguing our society today.

AmyRoseWoot

Review posted November 14, 2017

5

Great read

Kevin Wright

Review posted November 14, 2017

4

Mr. Putnam's book about social capital was interesting and helpful to me. It was extremely detailed which was a hard read at times. I came away with a better appreciation of the importance of my family and social organizations I grew up in such as 4-H, sports teams, church and a youth group I participated in called Christian Endeavor.

Holly Denman

Review posted November 5, 2017

5

Social capacity. A term I was unfamiliar with and wanted to learn more. I did. Putnam's research is exhaustive to say the least. Leaving no area of civic engagement or social capital un-turned, he covers politics, religion, philanthropy and the workplace. Engagement has changed, he sums up after 275 pages of detailed research, because of generational change, pressure of time and money, sub-urbanization and long term effects of television as the main culprits. This is the "global warming" of human resources. Lest we are left hanging, Putnam spends the second half of the book summarizing solutions. In the end, we are back at the beginning. Living in community with other human beings is about relationships. No matter how much we would like to escape that reality, it isn't going away. "No man is an island" John Donne pondered in the year 1624. Some things never change and are not likely to in the future. The consequences are sad. Fortunately Putnam is an optimist. I have already given this book to a sociology professor and bought two more for other people. "Bowling Alone" has been in print far too long for no one in my circle of influence not to have heard of it. It was a challenging first read, but exactly what I needed.

kmier

Review posted May 17, 2017

4

This book is great insight into the changing dynamics in our culture and the importance of creating community. I recommend this for anyone looking to increase interactions and garner participation in community projects and activities.

Carla Perry

Review posted April 25, 2017

5

Although this book, written in 2000, hopefully looks forward to societal change regarding civic involvement by the year 2010, it is still an eye-opener about what caused the decline in social capital over the last century. The book is exhaustively researched and painstakingly presented, and offers conclusions that are both surprising and sad. For instance, on p. 231: "Nothing—not low education, not full-time work, not long commutes in urban agglomerations, not poverty or financial distress—is more broadly associated with civic disengagement and social disconnection than is dependence on television for entertainment." From p. 326: "… have established beyond reasonable doubt that social connectedness is one of the most powerful determinants of our well-being. The more integrated we are with our community, the less likely we are to experience colds, heart attacks, strokes, cancer, depression, and premature death of all sorts." I took many notes while reading the book and plan to go through the material many times so that I can better internalize the author's findings. I find myself bringing up the author's observations in general conversation because it seems as though in this highly politically-fraught time, the lessons are especially pertinent. I spoke with my son about the book. He was born in 1976 and is committed to interacting with his neighbors, serves as president of his neighborhood association, speaks up for his political convictions, endorses candidates in voter's pamphlets, volunteers excessively, organizes community events, and marvelously, I see his friends and other similarly-aged people doing the same. So perhaps the downward trend in civic engagement has reached its low point. At least I have hope.

reesevergori

Review posted April 14, 2017

4

A lot of good information, (perhaps too much). Is long but thorough. Biggest problem is the information is now 20 years old and I kept wondering how much has changed, perhaps even more dramatically, in the past two decades.

cshadron

Review posted March 7, 2017

4

While this book is quite dense, full of well researched data and droves of information, it makes a poignant case for civic engagement and why it is crucial to our democracy.

danabnichols

Review posted January 23, 2017

4

I read an excerpt from this in college and have been fascinated by the topic ever since. It was an interesting read and super relevant to today's issues. Will be shared widely amongst my friends and colleagues!

BrianLittle

Review posted September 27, 2016

4

I like Putman and the way he mixes academia with the real world. Lots of statistics in the book, but overall a very good read, especially if you like Putman's premises.

mossyturtle

Review posted July 12, 2016

5

I found many interesting tips. I have begun to use many of the ideas shared.

Richard LaPlante

Review posted July 11, 2016

3

If you love statistical analysis you will not find a more comprehensive book on what has happened to the American Community over the past century. I can't think of any sector of community that the author does not take into consideration in his research.

sjlove2004

Review posted June 1, 2016

4

Great look at habits and behaviors of our population. A very BIG book with a lot of supplemental information, data and graphs.

lisabethdmiller

Review posted May 22, 2016

3

Putnam's work is important to understand and has had significant influence on social science since its publication. The sections of data that begin the book are hard to get through - but the "so what" sections are worth the wait.

lguliasi

Review posted March 6, 2016

5

I'd heard a lot about this book and it lived up to my expectations. It was interesting and provided me with insight I am sure I will use in my community development work.

mpascual

Review posted January 11, 2016

5

This book offers great insight and realistic suggestions for Americans to become involved and familiarize with Democratic principles and governance through group participation, interaction abd "rubbing off onto each other." A modern De Tocqueville.

Brittmcgurk

Review posted January 8, 2016

3

This book started out a bit slow, but once I stuck with it, it became pretty interesting. It was pretty inspiring and I agreed with the author on many of his points. It made me think more about what I'm doing to foster community.

RoseRobin

Review posted November 16, 2015

4

This book is an amazing resource. It is constantly referenced in the field of community development. The concept of Social Capital and how to increase that is an important part of any plan to make a community more livable. The book is heavy on the research so might be challenging to read straight through, though it is very interesting, but it is an essential item for a reference library.

Browncoat

Review posted November 15, 2015

5

No wonder this book is so highly thought of. The author has a breezy style that makes consuming his detailed research palatable. So full of information that you never thought of before, but makes complete sense now.

Hazel

Review posted October 21, 2015

4

Well supported by a large, varied body of evidence, and careful about forming conclusions, Putnam presents a picture of societal changes during the last half of the 20th century and beyond. During that time, neighborhood get-togethers, weekly card games, bowling teams, casual evenings with friends, and other forms of regular social interaction have decreased dramatically. Many have almost disappeared. Putnam shows us the evidence, explores why this happened, what its effects are, and how we might begin to regain some of what we have lost during this time and prevent further losses. This is a scholarly, well researched book, and it is also quite readable.

weschmidt56

Review posted October 11, 2015

5

This was or is very goog

renmull

Review posted July 31, 2015

5

Excellent book about the collapse of the US community and insightful suggestion for redevelopment.

lavake

Review posted July 14, 2015

3

Finally got the time to take in this book and how it relates to the world we now work, live, and play in. Has social capital and civic involvement morphed into social media? In a world rightly interested in increased equality and public health, there is an unknown to what the act of bowling alone will make of us.

Sklope

Review posted May 18, 2015

5

Excellent read... Very informative on how generations have built community and organization

mhouse

Review posted January 14, 2015

4

Very insightful look at the decline of involvement in civic engagement groups. Indepth and detailed which at times was intriguing and others a bit dry -- but overall a very well written book.