Sunday, February 22, 2009

Midterm: The problem of leisure and bridging and bonding social capital.

What is the "problem of leisure"? Why is it a problem? When did it arise? (Bowling Alone)

Leisure is quoted as being the "most dangerous threat hanging over American society..."(16).  Similarly, leisure is a problem because it makes community members complacent and uninterested in the overall well being of the community, and it also lessens the impact of social capital. On page 25 of Putnam's "Bowling Alone," some statistics are given about how individuals believe leisure has damaged their society (interviewed in 1987)...
  • "53% thought that their parents' generation was better in terms of 'being a concerned citizen, involved in helping others with the community...'"
  • "Fully 77% said the nation was worse off because of less involvement in community activities..."
Interviewed in 1996
  • "Only 8% of all Americans said that 'the honesty and integrity of the average American' were improving, as compared with 50% of us who though were were becoming less trustworthy..."
Leisure is a problem because it results in the breakdown of social capital, which further results in the breakdown of "good will, fellowship, sympathy and social intercourse..." (Bowling Alone, 19). 
Putnam does not put an exact date on when the problem of leisure arose, but he estimates that it is around the last few decades where leisure has taken a toll on Americans...
"For the first two-thirds of the twentieth century a powerful tide bore Americans into ever deeper engagement in the life of their communities, but a few decades ago- silently, without warning- that tide reversed and were were overtaken by a treacherous rip current. Without at first noticing, we have been pulled apart from one another and from our communities over the last third of the century" (Bowling Alone, 27).
Give an example of both bridging and bonding social capital. Which one is inclusive and external, and which one is exclusive and internal? Which one is "glue" and which one is "WD-40"?
Bridging social capital is inclusive and external and examples include the civil rights movement, many youth service groups, and ecumenical religious organizations (Bowling Alone, 22). On the other hand bonding social capital is exclusive and internal and examples include ethnic fraternal organizations, church-based women's reading groups, and fashionable country clubs (22). 
Furthermore, "bonding social capital is good for undergirding specific reciprocity and mobilizing solidarity," while "bridging networks... are better for linkage to external assets and for information diffusion" (22). Similarly, Xavier de Souza Briggs states that bonding social capital is good for "getting by," while bridging social capital is crucial for "getting ahead" (23). 
While both are important for building social capital, "Bonding social capital constitutes a kind of sociological superglue, whereas bridging social capital provides a sociological WD-40" (23).

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