e also referred to as social capital, more aptly defined as “[a feature] of social organization such as networks, norms, and social trust that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit” (Putnam 1).
In his article, Putnam recounts various data to show the decreasing social engagement in the United States. He talks about membership in clubs and religious organizations and voter turnout. Most striking of all figures he presented is that of the increase in the number of solo bowlers. He says that league bowling has decreased but at least 3% of Americans go bowling alone. Aside from the impact of solo bowling on the income of bowling lanes, solo bowling could also mean the increasing alienation among members of the society. Bowling games are typically rowdy, and will require a different kind of connection in order for people to enjoy each other’s company. When individuals go bowling alone, it could mean that they are no longer able to create such intimate bonds with other individuals, which in turn, could indicate the kind of relationships being made in the society today.
Ferdinand Tonnies’ article provides an insight as to why civic engagement has fallen in the United States in recent years. Tonnies made a point of defining the Gemeinschaft (community) from the Gesellschaft (society), or in economic terms, the relationships formed in rural and urban areas.
For Tonnies, the relationships in the Gemeinschaft are based on mutual understanding and a “unity of being”. Sometimes, the unity is created by blood (kinship), other times it is created by the common ownership of land (neighborhood). But the most important kind of relationship are those formed with a unity of the mind, as indicated by the presence of deities and sacred places. Tonnies says that Gemeinschaft is an organic connection with another human being, and it becomes even more established with norms, folklore, and language. Gemeinschaft is therefor often found in rural life,