Jump to:Page Content
This page documents older articles that refer to Saguaro's work and to social capital. As time passes, organizations change their names and websites move; Saguaro cannot guarantee that each of these links will continue to function. For newer articles, please visit Tom Sander's Social Capital Blog or the current "In the News" pages.
Robert D. Putnam and Lara Putnam's Op-Ed "The Growing Class Gap" Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 4/20/08
Robert D. Putnam's Op-Ed "The Rebirth of American Civic Life" in Sunday Boston Globe (3/2/08)
Putnam discusses diversity and social capital research.
See Saguaro's Barack Obama's inspring "Yes We Can" video.
Xav Briggs publishes "Some of my best friends are" 12-07 in City & Community using Social Capital Benchmark survey. ...more
FIRST MASSACHUSETTS CIVC ENGAGEMENT SUMMIT HELD...more
Capital Ideas (Guardian, 7/18/07) explains the Harvard-Manchester collaboration on social change.
The Downside of Diversity (International Herald Tribune, 8/5/07)
SEE RESULTS FROM OUR 2006 SOCIAL CAPITAL COMMUNITY SURVEY.
STATE ESTIMATES OF VOLUNTEERING/ SOCIAL CAPITAL: The U..S. government began measurnig some elements of social capital in Nov. 2006. Details here.
TRUST AT 34 YEAR LOW. NYT's sneak previews of 2006 GSS data.
Saguaro and Univ. of Manchester through SCHMi (Social Change: a Harvard-Manchester initiative) project release Age Of Obama report comparing the social consequences of diversity in US and UK. They conclude that broad generational long increases in tolerance make black prime minister in UK possible, but fewer black candidates in UK and more centralized party recruitment could serve as damper on pace of a black British Obama. See press release here, BBC interview with Robert Putnam, Guardian lead story , Guardian in-depth story, and Guardian editorial. [And see Social Capital Blog post.]
Professor Robert D. Putnam conducts sweeping interview with The American Interest magazine discussing everything from national service to diversity and social cohesion to how society needs to grapple with the social consequences of the massive movement of women from kitchens to offices to the decline of unstructured time for youth games. Read the Jan-Feb. 2008 interview here.
Xav Briggs publishes "Some of my best friends are..." 12-07 in City & Community using Social Capital Benchmark survey. NPR did a story on this research, available here.
NY Times Op-Ed (11/12/07) highlights import of social capital as a happiness-enhancing strategy: "While the extra happiness derived from a raise or a winning lottery ticket might be fleeting, studies have found that the happiness people derive from free time or social interaction is less susceptible to comparisons with other people around them. Nonmonetary rewards like more vacations, or more time with friends or family are likely to produce more lasting changes in satisfaction. … [I]f the object of public policy is to maximize society’s well-being, more attention should be placed on fostering social interactions and less on accumulating wealth." See full article "All They Are Saying Is Give Happiness A Chance" (Eduardo Porter)
Capital Ideas (Guardian, 7/18/07, by Madeleine Bunting) about the Harvard-Manchester collaboration on social change.
Stephen Post and Jill Neimark have written a popular book on the health benefits of volunteering and doing good to others called Why Good Things Happen to Good People (2007) . More information available from their web site.
Full Disclosure New book by KSG colleagues Archon Fung, Mary Graham and David Weil highlights when information transparency useful and links with issue of social capital and civic activism. Fung et al observe the increasing role of the Internet in decentralizing the purveyors of data that holds other accountable like nyc.uncivilservants.org or ISawYourNanny or YouTube videos showing rats in a Connecticut KFC outlet. They predict a world in 3-5 years where one can point a cellphone at a product and get information on whether it is good or bad for global warming, whether it was produced using child labor, etc. and user will be able to filter what issues he/she wants information about. They also talk about issues like Wikis where parents can collectively gather user-supplied information on things like the qualities of their school.
GOVERNMENT MEASUREMENT OF SOCIAL CAPITAL ITEMS: Thanks to the Corporation for National & Community Service's (CNCS) leadership under Robert Grimm, the government begin measuring social capital on the Nov. 2006 Current Population Survey (CPS, the largest non-Census government survey, used to determine monthly unemployment rates, surveys 60,000 American households; the respondents also answer on behalf of other adult and young adults living in their home generating 100,000 responses).
:: The Corporation for National Service issued state-by-state results for volunteering and civic life in April 2007 in a report called Volunteering in America: 2007 State Trends and Rankings in Civic Life. A press release on this report is available here. The report also revealed that one out of every three volunteers is not volunteering a year later and highlighted tools to increase volunteer retention.
Social capital questions asked by the government include: attendance at public meetings, working with others in neighborhood to fix or improve something, volunteering and voting. These questions are asked annually in the September CPS (volunteering, neighborhood fixing/improving and public meeting attendance) and November CPS supplement (voting).
:: Data from 2006 should be generally available in the Spring of 2007.
:: In July 2007, CNS will issue volunteering data from CPS for significant metropolitan areas across the United States.
FOUR RECENT REPORTS ON YOUTH ENGAGEMENT
1) 2007 CIRCLE REPORT CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AMONG YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN discusses youth volunteering and voting trends.
: The report has interesting Figures 4-6 that show trends in high school volunteering rates since 1975 (Monitoring the Future data). Figure 4 shows a clear increase in high school senior boys and girls volunteering over the last 16 years: increases of roughly 10 percentage points (and 14-16%). But Figures 5 and 6, over roughly the same period , are flat to declining among 8th grade and 10th grade boys and only very modestly increasing among 10th grade girls. This suggests that most of the increase in youth volunteering may be driven by high school graduation requirements or by seniors burnishing their resumes for college. Nevertheless, this is likely still positive news for the future since youth who volunteer in high school are more likely to volunteer throughout their lives.
CIRCLE's 2006 Civic and Political Health of the Nation Survey (N=2200) shows young men are more likely than women to pay attention to news and engage in a wider range of political activities, but women are more likely to volunteer and vote.
2) The March 10, 2007 National Journal has a cover article Generation 'We' about the increase in political interest and voting among 18-24 year olds. And a graphic on the jump in youth turnout shows how the biggest increases in voting rates were among 18-21 year-olds.
3) " 9-11 GENERATION" TREND CONTINUES: American College Freshman Survey 2006 (UCLA, Higher Education Research Institute) finds student political interest at 41 year high. "More freshmen report that they discussed politics frequently as high-school seniors, moving up 8.3 percentage points to 33.8 percent in 2006 from 25.5 percent in 2004, the last time this question was asked." And students are becoming more politically polarized: fewer consider themselves moderate and increased numbers consider themselves Conservative or Liberal. The 2006 ACF Survey also looks at how diverse students' high schools and neighborhoods were in comparison to the racial diversity at their college. Read findings here or see summary Powerpoint presentation.
4) INCREASE IN YOUTH NARCISSISM? And contrary to these above 4 reports, this study, involving 5 researchers, analyzed Narcissistic Personality Inventory surveys over the last 25 years and found increases in Gen Y narcissism. The study has not yet been accepted by an academic journal but is under review. See L.A. Times story, Gen Y's ego trip takes a nasty turn (2/27/07). Unpublished paper on study available here.
2006 PEW SOCIAL TRUST SURVEY. Pew Social Trust Survey ''Americans and Social Trust: Who, Where and Why' Executive Summary available here. And the full report is available here.
They found that rural Americans, richer Americans, older Americans and white Americans were all more trusting. Gender, political ideology and religiosity or religious traditions did not affect trust.
They misreport that trends in social trust are consistent across the last 4 decades. in fact, social trust has dropped by about a third since 1972 in the GSS and the NES which asked this question back to 1964 also suggests a deeper fall in trust. (The 2006 Pew survey shows significantly higher trust than the 2004 NES survey, but different survey firms notoriously produce different results, so called 'house effects' , which is why serious social scientists only compare surveys done across time on the SAME survey by the SAME survey firm.). All the surveying Saguaro has done do not show noticeable increases in trust over the last 2 years.
2006 CASE FOUNDATION REPORT Citizens at the Center: A New Approach to Civic Engagement. Report suggests that youth volunteering may be rising not as sign of deeper civic engagement, but as an effort to try to gain some sense of control over their life. Presents evidence that many feel that things are spiraling out of control, and that there is little connection between citizens and public institutions and leaders. You can hear interviews of experts consulted in drafting the report here.
PUTNAM ON IRAQ PROTESTS: Robert D. Putnam explained on NPR Weekend Edition that the Iraq war is drawing smaller numbers and having less effect because fewer Americans feel at risk without a national draft, because fewer Americans feel confident that protests will bring change and because Americans participate more in one-shot demonstrations that only rarely have impact.
2007 U.S. STATISTICAL ABSTRACT: The 2007 Statistical Abstract for the U.S. reports that the average American spends nearly 2 months a year watching television (64 days) although the mix is changing: more time spent annually watching cable and satellite TV (877 hours) and less time with broadcast TV (678 hours). Read Who Americans Are And What They Do In Census Data: Fatter, Taller and Thirstier Americans (NYT, 12/15/06, p. 27, Sam Roberts) quotes Saguaro's Robert D. Putnam. Americans in 2007 spend nearly 10 hours a day in activities that are often socially isolated: watching television, surfing the Internet, reading books, newspapers and magazines and listening to music. Internet usage surpassed time spent reading newspapers for the first time ever. The answer to how Americans spend 10 hours a day on the media and still have time for work, eating, sleep is one word: multitasking (they are often engaging in several media at a time). [Note: newspaper readership strongly predicts civic engagement while broadcast television viewing negatively predicts it.]
BIPARTISANSHIP IN 2007 CONGRESS?: Democrats, despite earlier pledging new bipartisan tone, allowed no Republican input on their first 100 Day legislation. That said, many of the underlying bills passed with significant bipartisan support (including bills on minimum wage, implementing the 9-11 Commission recommendations,cutting interest rates on student loans, increasing goverment accountability, and reducing subsidies to the oil industry).
Washington Post, L.A. Times and Washington Post editorial A Fairer House: But Not Quite Yet (1/3/06) criticized the Democratic plans not to permit more Republican input into the legislation..
THE NEW YORK TIMES YEAR IN IDEAS 2006: The year-end list has a number of ideas relating to social capital or civic engagement. Among them are:
Ballot That Is Also A Lottery Ticket (an unsuccessful Arizona ballot referendum effort to make all voters eligible for a $1,000,000 lottery, paid for by unclaimed lottery winnings);
The Eyes of Honesty (that summarizes research showing that people behave more trustworthy when there are pictures of eyes around, which might in turn increase interpersonal trust, even if it makes us feel like we are living in *1984*);
Homophily (the tendency of people to socialize with others like them, and the interesting idea that Facebook should add a feature called 'The Stretch' to encourage individuals to build more bridging social capital);
Sousveiillance (the watching of authorities from below, which might help to restore trust of governmental officials);
Voting-Booth Feng Shui (research suggesting that where you vote influences the votes cast, e.g. voters support educational initiatives more when they vote in schools);
Web-based Microfinancing (which highlights Internet technology that enables say a Kansas schoolteacher to become a microfinancer for seamstresses in developing countries; Saguaro note: while the sites provide pictures of the entrepreneurs it is unclear whether loan repayment efforts will be nearly as high when not embedded in existing local social networks where there would be a high reputational risk from any entrepreneur defaulting on a loan);
Workplace Rumors Are True (summarizing research that suggests that workplace rumors are substantially true since social networks are dense enough to scuttle inaccurate rumors).
NEW CITIZENSHIP TEST BEING PILOTED: The test aims to reduce focus on memorizing facts and increase focus on American civic values. So instead of asking how many branches of government, the test asks why we have multiple branches of government. The exam is being piloted and assessed in ten cities in 2007. ' 'Our goal is to inspire immigrants to learn about the civic values of this nation so that after they take the oath of citizenship they will participate fully in our great democracy,'' said Emilio Gonzalez, director of the Citizenship and Immigration Services, which has been working since 2000 to develop a new test. They have a list of the 144 questions and a NYT article about the new test appears here. [The existing 96 questions can be found here.]
HARVARD-MANCHESTER PROJECT: The Saguaro Seminar and Robert D. Putnam are leading up a multi-year joint project between Harvard University and The University of Manchester (UK) to focus on social change, and examine social issues in a transatlantic light. See press release and Guardian story.
Chronicle of Higher Education story on the collaboration
The University of Manchester will be launching a website for this collaboration but it is not up-and-running yet.
Hear Robert D. Putnam's interview on BBC Today about the Manchester collaboration and Saguaro research (10/6/06)
The Times Higher Education Supplement's How to land a bowling trophy (10/27/06, Stephen Phillips) was generally accurate but flawed by a breezy lead-in claiming that Prof. Putnam felt like an Easter Island head in a global-head hunting expedition. Prof. Putnam said no such thing to Stephen Phillips and had nothing but admiration for how sensitively and professionally the Univ. of Manchester conducted itself in negotiations.
DIVERSITY, IMMIGRATION AND SOCIAL CAPITAL.
We've created a separate page on our diversity research, available here.
SKYTTE PRIZE: Saguaro's Robert D. Putnam was awarded the 2006 Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science in Uppsala, Sweden, on Sept. 30. Many consider the prize to be the world's highest accolade in political science. [See full press release here.]
:: Arthur Brooks in Charitable Explanation (WSJ Op-Ed 11/27/06), uses Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey data, to show how religiosity drives charitable giving.
:: Culminating piece in the NYT 10-part investigation into Class in America ['Class Matters'] talks about how social capital and human capital are essential to class mobility.
TRENDS IN U.S. VOLUNTEERING, 1974-2005 (report issued by The Corporation for National and Community Service, using governmental data). To read more, see: The Washington Post's story , the full CNCS report, a fact sheet, or their press release.
Key findings include:
The 2005 adult volunteering rate has declined from 1974 but the current rate (27%) is at its highest since 1989 when it was 20.4% – a 32% increase since 1989.
The growth in volunteering has been fueled exclusively by three age groups: older teenagers (ages 16-19), mid-life adults (45-64), and older adults (65+).
Teenager volunteering (ages 16-19) more than doubled since 1989.
For other results read the full CNCS report
THOMAS FRIEDMAN COLUMN, The Taxi Driver (NYT, 11/1/06) poignantly conveys how technology is drawing us apart. Friedman recounts a recent ride with a young, French-speaking African driver, who Friedman thinks he would have learned something from, but despite spending an hour together, they never exchanged words, with Friedman working on his column and listening to iPod, and taxi driver watching video, talking on his bluetooth cellphone. His article is about being in one place physically but another place psychologically.
MICROLENDING AND 2006 NOBEL PEACE PRIZE FOR YUNUS: Mohammed Yunus and the Grameen Bank won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. They pioneered microlending, that uses social capital and social sanctions among poor villager lending circles in developing countries to achieve remarkably low loan default rates (1% or so) despite the villagers being poor credit risks.
For a very interesting article on microlending and splits within the field -- whether microlending should be just about lending or other social training, about whether loans should be to the poorest or the poor, and between for-profit and non-profit microlending -- read Millions for Millions (New Yorker, 10/30/06, by Connie Bruck). Practitioners argue about whether the for-profit model will reach more villagers or shun less profitable segments of society (like Yunus' cross-subsidization of loans to beggars from returns made on village lending circles).
[back to Home page]
2006 MID-TERM ELECTION TURNOUT
CIRCLE found evidence of increased youth turnout in the 2006 mid-term election. See their report on youth turnout here and an article on this in Washington Post. [Young Voter Strategies also found similar things from exit polls.]
Curtis Gans of the non-partisan Center for the Study of the American Electorate at American University estimates that overall voter turnout appeared to be slightly higher than last mid-term election (around 40%). Full report available here.
Key findings: Preliminary numbers showed a new record high midterm turnout in Virginia and increased turnout in Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Connecticut, Delaware and Kentucky, and Montana, but decreased turnout in Louisiana, Florida, Georgia and likely Hawaii.
Gans said it does not signal a new spirit of civic engagement, but instead " reflects anger and fear related directly to Bush and the Iraq war.... It comes in spite of underlying problems that had depressed turnout during recent decades." "A preliminary analysis showed turnout down in some states and up in others - notably up in Virginia, where it appeared a higher number voted than in any midterm in the state's history, said Curtis Gans, director of the centre.....It also was a big turnout success for Democrats. They drew more voters than Republicans for the first time in a midterm election since 1990....." The article taken from ABC News reports continued: "National turnout could end up substantially higher, pending more complete numbers from California and Washington state, Gans said. The highest midterm turnout in recent memory was 42.1% in 1982. In fiercely contested Virginia - where Democratic challenger James Webb's lead over Republican incumbent George Allen was razor thin and a recount was likely - an estimated 43.7% of eligible voters went to the polls, compared with 29.2% in the previous midterm. The last time turnout was comparably high in Virginia was when it hit 43.2% in 1994, Gans said. Ohioans also came out in substantially greater numbers - unofficial figures showed 44.3% of eligible voters cast ballots compared with 38.4% in 2002. Turnout also was substantially higher in Michigan and Missouri; somewhat higher in Connecticut, Delaware and Kentucky, and slightly higher in Montana, Gans' calculations showed. It went down substantially in Louisiana because voters there didn't have a statewide race to decide "and because of (hurricane) Katrina," (Voter turnout in U.S. midterm election slightly higher than usual, Pauline Jelinek, Canadian Press, 11/8/06)
DEVAL PATRICK, the first black governor elected in Massachusetts, pledged to keep working with the extraordinary grassroots coalition he has built and unite the electorate across the social chasms that often divide us. Read his acceptance speech or read article on his grassroots organizing effort.
The Patrick/Murray transition team has set up citizen task forces to advise them on a dozen or so topics including Civic Engagement and held a series of public meeting to gather feedback on their agenda. Read their Civic Engagement Transition Team Report
[Read letter from David Crowley, founder of SCI, of how they should promote civic engagement. ]
The Patrick Administration also held a Youth Inaugural (Jan. 2007) in the Schubert Theater to involve 1000 high schoolers, 2 from every public school, from across the state in providing input to the Patrick Administration on 3 discussion topics. See the Mass. Civic Youth website (hosted by Social Capital, Inc.) and stories on the youth inaugural here, here and one on the Framingham delegation.
read, Keep the Public Involved, Patrick (David Tebaldi, Boston Globe Op-Ed, 12/30/06)
other politicians are noted for their efforts to keep in touch with grassroots constituents, for example, Senator Russ Feingold has pledged a 'listening session' every year in each of Wisconsin's 72 counties and in Nov. 2006 held his 1000th listening session since 1993 (averaging about 1.5 such sessions per week) ; and Bernie Sanders holds frequent 'town meetings' with his constituents.
There were a host of problems with voting machines, IDs, possible voter suppression, but they were largely isolated.
: see this NYT Editorial on problems with electronic voting called Counting the Vote Badly (NYT, 11/16/06)
ETHICS REFORM AGENDA
The True Ideological Battle (WSJ, 11/7/06, Arthur C. Brooks Op-Ed) asserts that many winning democrats look more like Republicans. Despite the Hispanics overwhelmingly voting Democratic, he cites Saguaro's 2000 Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey to show that newly voting Latinos are more conservative than liberal. [Frank Rich in a 11-19-06 Op-Ed It's Not The Democrats Who Are Divided, claims that the newly elected Democrats are not generally more conservative than past Democrats.]
Nancy Pelosi, incoming Speaker of the House, has pledged to restore a civil culture to the U.S. House. This may be a challenge with the departure of key Republican moderates in the House (J. Leach-IA, N. Johnson-CT) and Senate (Chafee-RI; M. DeWine-OH). [Shaw-R(FL) and Bass-R(NH) who are somewhat moderate were also defeated.]
Moreover, some think this will be made more difficult by her heavy but unsuccessful lobbying for Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) for Majority Leader, a figure with past ethical skeletons in his closet and controversial among both Democrats and Republicans alike.
Mark Muro Op-Ed notes that signature of 2006 is the easy victories of more moderate Governors (like revamped Schwarzenegger-CA; Janet Napolitano-AZ; Kathleen Seblius-KS; or Jodi Rell-CT).
Voters in their decision to vote for new (largely democratic) faces indicated their disgust with corruption in exit polls.
Voters were disenchanted with Bush and Congress: 58 percent of voters disapprove of Bush's performance. Only 36% approved of job Congress was doing and 61% disapproved. "Of those who disapproved, 71 percent voted for the Democratic House candidate. Of those who approved, 71 percent voted for the Republican House candidate."
In an interesting twist on social capital, MoveOn.org mobilized volunteers to make 7 million calls to undecided voters in key target states. It wasn't quite social capital, since voters weren't contacting individuals who they knew, but perhaps it was more personalized than getting calls from a phone bank.
In new Senate, the middle rules (Christian Science Monitor, 11/13/06) describing how moderates will have increased power in the new Senate seated in January 2007.
A good analysis of the 2006 elections can be found at the Pew Research Center.
The New Republic story (12/11/06), Nancy Pelosi's Dilemma: Full House describes the challenges Nancy Peleosi faces in trying to unite her Democratic members who are far less unified than the 1994 Newt Gingrich "Contract with America" Republicans.
Changes are Expected in Voting by 2008 Elections (NYT, 12/8/2006, by Ian Urbina and Christopher Drew, p. A1)
RELIGION AND POLITICS IN 2006 ELECTIONS
Based on exit polling, Andy Kohut (of the Pew Research Center for People and the Press) reports that "There are few signs that the Republican base deserted the party. Christian conservatives, and conservatives generally, voted as Republican as they did in '02. Nor did white evangelical Protestants defect to the Democrats in any substantial number, as a number of post-election news stories have suggested. True, somewhat fewer white evangelical Protestants voted for Republican Congressional candidates than in 2004, when Bush was at the top of the ticket, but white evangelical protestant backing of G.O.P. candidates was just as great in 2006 as it was four years ago, when the Republicans won the popular vote by a sizable margin. The real religion story of this election is that the least religious Americans -- voters who attend church rarely or never -- made the biggest difference to the outcome of the election. This group gave Democrats an even greater share of their vote -- 67%, up from 55% in 2002." [See further analysis and various tables on how evangelicals and voters voted by religiosity.]
Democrats Ride Social, Environment Issues to Religious Gains (WSJ, 11/9/06, John D. McKinnon and Erika Lovley) Democrats were bolstered by conclusion that evangelicals could be wooed. "Exit polls suggest that Democrats made significant gains among several religious demographic groups, including both Catholics and evangelical Protestants. While the party's 2004 presidential nominee John Kerry won barely 20% of white evangelicals, for example, almost 30% voted Democratic this year. Democrats won the backing of 55% of Catholics this year, compared with 47% in 2004. Two years ago, conservative religious groups claimed credit for putting President Bush over the top in his tough re-election battle, and were rewarded with two conservative Supreme Court justices. Now, however, much of their political agenda and even a measure of their strength have crumbled with the loss of Republican control in the House, and probably in the Senate."
Newsweek cover story (11/13/06, Lisa Miller) An Evangelical Identity Crisis --Sex or social justice? The war between the religious right and believers who want to go broader. The article describes the evangelical religious landscape in America and the historical forces that led some to withdraw from society and others to actively engage in areas of politics and social issues. The article also highlights various books showing evident divides within the evangelical sector like David Kuo's disillusionment with the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives called Tempting Faith (2006) or Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson's Blinded by Might (about their falling out with the Moral Majority). Article discusses Rick Warren's positions supporting aid to Darfur and ending homelessness at the same time as he criticizes abortion and stem-cell research funding; and Bill Hybels (the head of WillowCreek) who has befriended U-2 star and social activist Bono and invited Bono to speak to Willow Creek parishioners, changing many of their minds about what a true Christian should believe.
Jim Wallis asserts that one of the lessons of 2006 is that when democratic candidates can legitimately tout their own faith (as in Senate races in Ohio and Pennsylvania and governor's race in Ohio), they can beat back the claims by Republicans that God is on their side.
Democrats Get Religion (SF Chronicle, 11/5/06, Vicki Haddock)
Evangelical Voters Leaving Republican Flock (ABC- Good Morning America 11-03-2006), citing recent Pew finding that evangelicals were less attached to Republicans, and citing Monique el-Faizy, author of God and Country: How Evangelicals Have Become America's Mainstream (2006), about the disaffection of evangelicals with Republicans. Similar story in Washington Post here.
YOUNG PEOPLE AND SOCIAL CAPITAL (UK) The Centre for Social Action, De Montfort University, School of Applied Social Sciences, in Leicester (UK) issued the Young People and Social Capital pamphlet (2006) that describes how UK youth utilize social capital to manage risk decisions and bring in new resources.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
We are so delighted that Saguaro's Barack Obama was elected America's 44th president and first African American president in a landslide victory in a truly historic 2008 election that brought millions of new voters to the polls and enlisted scores of new donors and canvassers. Preliminary indicators are that a higher percentage of registered voters voted than in any year since the early 1960s. See some highlights of the campaign.
- Obama's 2/11/07 announcement of his candidacy in Illiinois at statehouse where Abraham Lincoln announced his presidency
- Yes We Can speech in NH after the primaries
- Will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas' inspring 'Yes We Can' video based on Obama's NH speech
- December 6, 2007 Mt. Vernon , Iowa speech calling for broadened national service , an issue brief about it here and statements in support here.
- The Speech (David Bernstein, Chicago Magazine, June 2007) offers a behind-the-scenes look at what went into Obama's 2004 keynote at the Democratic National Convention that launched him into the ranks of political rising star. (2004 speech here with part1 and part2)
- Barack's speech at Democratic Convention in 2008 accepting nomination
- See Barack's victory speech in Chicago (Nov. 5, 2008)
- Read Barack's book, The Audacity of Hope (2006)
COMMUTING ALONE. The Transportation Safety Board's Commuting in America III had various findings, almost all bad for social capital. Among them:
:: The number of workers driving alone has increased by 34 million since 1980 while number of workers has increased by only 31 million over this period, although rates of increase have slowed.
:: A sharp increase in extreme commuting: people leaving before 6 AM and traveling more than 60 minutes and even more than 90 minutes to work.
:: Carpooling numbers are down even in absolute numbers (except in the West), transit use is down (except in the West), and walking is down.
:: There has been an increase in telecommuters (working from home) -- this is the only social capital good news in the report.
COLLEGE STUDENT VOLUNTEERING is up from 27% in 2002 to 30% in 2005 according to National Service Report, College Students Helping America (Oct. 2006). The student volunteering rate now exceeds the adult volunteering rate. Among the findings:
College students were twice as likely to volunteer as individuals of the same age who not in college. (30.2% versus and 15.1%).
Although working a bit was better for volunteering, working a lot was bad for volunteering. Students who work 1 to 10 hours per week part-time (46.4 percent) are more likely to volunteer than those who do not work at all (29.8 percent). But only 23% of students working 31-35 hours volunteered and this declined to 23% for students working 36-40 hours a week.
More college student volunteers (27%) are episodic volunteers (volunteering fewer than two weeks annually with their main organization) than adults (23.4%). Nevertheless, 44.1% of college student volunteers also engage in regular volunteering (volunteering 12 or more weeks per year with their main organization).
ADCOUNCIL PHILANTHROPY CAMPAIGN (9/2006): The AdCouncil launched its initiative "Generous Nation" with its tagline, "Don't Almost Give. Give." Here is their website, and their six ad spots to promote giving. Here is the NY Times' story on the initiative.
AMERICA'S CIVIC HEALTH INDEX: The National Conference of Citizenship issued its report "America's Civic Health Index: Broken Engagement" at their 2006 annual conference (with Thomas Sander and Robert Putnam as collaborators).
- Let's Get Connected (September 11, 2006, TIME Viewpoint, by John Bridgeland and Robert D. Putnam) summarizes some of the NCoC's report findings.
- Civic Involvement Tied to Education: High School Dropouts Unlikely to Vote (Washington Post, 9/19/06, p. A19, Amy Goldstein) discusses the report and a panel discussion of it.
- A webcast of the panel discussing the report is available here (click on State of our Civic Union).
- The underlying data from the report can be accessed here.
9-11 FIFTH ANNIVERSARY: Many stories chronicle the social and civic impact of 9-11 on Americans at the five year anniversary. Among them:
:: Whatever Happened to the America of 9/12? (NYT, 9/10/06 by Frank Rich)
::Did September 11 Produce a Generation of Volunteers? (Ian Wilhelm) and Learning from 9-11 (Suzanne Perry). [Chronicle of Philanthropy, 8/31/06]
:: 9/11/06 (NYT Editorial, 9/11/2006). The Times editorial staff remarked "What we do revisit, over and over again, is the period that followed, when sorrow was merged with a sense of community and purpose. How, having lost so much on the day itself, did we also manage to lose that as well?" They believe that our "pinched" sense of responsibility originated with President Bush's failed leadership to call for any citizen sacrifice other than paying our normal taxes. They assert that we we wouldn't be fighting in Iraq if everyone's sons and daughters were called into service, but instead the demands of the post-9-11 era were to be fought with the "blood of other people's children, and with money earned by the next generation." "The country still hungers for something better, for evidence that our leaders also believe in ideas larger than their own political advancement.....It would be miraculous if the best of our leaders did something larger -- expressed grief and responsibility for the bad path down which we've gone, and promised to work together to turn us in a better direction. ...If that kind of coming together happened today, we could look back on Sept. 11, 2006, as more than a day for recalling bad memories and lost chances."
:: For more stories on 9-11 5th anniversary impact visit here.
DECLINING TRUST IN LEADERS. Second National Leadership Index (10/06) shows increasing distrust and lack of confidence in leaders (according to KSG Center for Public Leadership).
:: The National Leadership Index showed trust was lowest of the Press, Executive Branch, Congress and Business. And 5 of 11 categories showed significant declines from prior year (Educational, Religious, Business, Congressional Branch and Executive Branch of Government). None of the 11 categories showed significant increases over 2005.
:: Republicans lost confidence in the Executive Branch leadership; Democrats and Independents did not. However, Republicans continue to have greater confidence than Democrats and Independents do in that branch of government.
DRAMATIC INCREASE IN SOCIAL ISOLATION IN LAST TWO DECADES: Two prominent sociologists and former critics (Lynn Smith-Lovin and Miller McPherson) now agree that we're Bowling Alone. They set out to prove that while association-going and politics may be down, that our friendship patterns are very robust, but they were shocked that the data confirmed the same patterns in Bowling Alone.
:: From 1985-2004, the percentage of Americans lacking anyone to discuss important matters with has nearly tripled (in the gold-standard General Social Survey data), going from 10% to 25%, and those who were only one friend away from being socially isolated went from 25% in 1985 to 44% in 2004.
:: We are also much more dependent on family for these close friends. In 1985, 64% of Americans had at least 1 non-kin friend, and that has dropped to 46% in 2004 and the average number of non-kin friends has dropped from 1.4 to 0.9 in only two decades.
:: See 2006 Social Isolation in America: Changes in Core Discussion Networks over Two Decades, American Sociological Review 71(3): 353-375.
:: See also stories in
New York Times
Ellen Goodman's Friendless in America and
TIME essay by Robert Putnam.
GSS DECLINE IN ASSOCIATIONALISM: The General Social Survey also shows marked drops from 1994-2004 across 14 of the 16 types of associations asked. The only increasing groups were hobby groups (up from 9% to 11% of respondents) and literary/arts groups (up from 10% to 10.5% of respondents). Ignoring these two, membership in the other 14 types dropped by an average of almost one-fifth (19%), and total memberships per capita dropped by 14%.
IRISH PRIME MINISTER AHERN, saying that the quality of life in Ireland depends on the civic involvement of citizens, announced on April 14, 2005 the establishment of a Task Force on Active Citizenship to help maintain and develop a healthy civic society. They recommended 10 key aims in September (Irish Times, "Task Force Aims to Increase Community Ties in Dublin", p. 8)
:: Putnam had earlier met with Aehrn back in September 2005 about the focus on social capital in Ahern's campaign.. See article in Irish Times. [More on Bertie Ahern's civic taskforce.]
GROWING CLASS GAP IN SOCIAL CAPITAL: Thomas Sander's Op-Ed in the Boston Globe, A Friend in Need, describes the evidence of the growing gap in social capital between rich and poor (11/14/05).
Interesting newer books relating to social capital.
FAMILY DINNERS INCREASING? Families with Full Plates, Sitting Down to Dinner (New York Times, 4/5/06, p. A1) cites a Columbia study showing a recent rise in family dinners. The annual long-term data we've seen (DDB) shows a stemming of a 25-year free-fall in family dinners, but it is less clear if there is a significant rise since 2002. If the Columbia study proves to be accurate it could demonstrate how concerted attention to a problem can make meaningful change in increasing our social and civic engagement.
RICK WARREN, the pastor of Saddleback Church, spoke at the Kennedy School Forum in March 2005 on whether the 2004 elections represented part of a new spiritual awakening in America. Warren is author of the best-selling hardcover book Purpose Driven Life in American history and his megachurch Saddleback was featured in one of the chapters in Better Together. Malcolm Gladwell also wrote an interesting piece about Saddleback called "Cellular Church" (New Yorker, 9/12/05).
VOLUNTEERING IN AMERICA: STATE TRENDS AND RANKINGS, 2002-2005.
RISE IN TEEN VOLUNTEERING/POLITICS, DECLINES IN RELIGIOSITY: Jan. 2006: 2005 American College Freshman Survey reports increases in volunteering and politics among college freshman and declines in religiosity. Findings are in line with Saguaro (Thomas Sander and Robert Putnam) Op-Ed in the Washington Post (9/10/05) "September 11 as Civics Lesson" on evidence of a new civic 9-11 generation among youth.
CANADA PRI PUBLISHES GUIDES TO APPLY SOCIAL CAPITAL TO POLICY: Canada's Policy Research Initiative has four very well-written and instructive pieces (2005): Social Capital as a Public Policy Tool Project Report, Policy Brief, Measurement of Social Capital and Social Capital in Action: Thematic Policy Studies (the latter in which eight authors apply a social capital lens to a specific policy and/or program area).
COMMENCEMENT TALKS 2005:
- Saguaro participant Glenn Loury gave an interesting commencement address at Boston University's 2005 commencement.
- Tim Russert at Harvard's Class Day spoke about the possibilities of the Class of 2005 being a new 'Greatest Generation'. Some excerpts available here.
:: PASTOR RICK WARREN (SADDLEBACK) 2004 visit to KSG
:: PUTNAM/HELLIWELL PAPER ON SOCIAL CAPITAL AND LIFE SATISFACTION: "The social context of well-being" (Royal Society in London) appears in The Science of Wellbeing (eds. Huppert, F., Baylis, N. and B. Keverne, 2005, Oxford Univ. Press).
PUTNAM SPEAKS TO OECD EDCUATIONAL MINISTERS about "Education and Social Cohesion" in Dublin on March 18, 2004.
:: 2004 PRESIDENTIAL VOTING TURNOUT:: Voting rates in the U.S. were 60.7%, the highest since 1968 (61.9%). For a CIRCLE report on youth voting rates in the 2004 election click here.
10/12/2010 USA TODAY
How joblessness hurts us all
By Thomas H. Sander and Robert D. Putnam
The unemployment rate has topped 10% for the first time in a quarter-century. More than one in six adults are unemployed or underemployed, the most since the Great Depression. By any measure this is troubling, but the long-term effects of unemployment are more devastating than most Americans grasp. Economists warn that high unemployment may persist for years.
Social capital generally
Too Few Friends? A Web Site Lets You Buy Some (And They're Hot) (NYT, 2/26/07, Daniel Slotnick, Business Day, p. 4)
10 part series on social capital in South Korea in Korea Herald newspaper
(1) Social capital greases the wheels of society ( 2/21/07, Ko Kyoung-tae)
(2) Koreans live in equilibrium of distrust: In a Knowledge-based Economy, Trust Becomes More Critical (2/24/07, Kim Tae-jong)
(3) Distrust of strangers leads to factionalism: the level of social trust in Korea rose in 2004 only to fall in 2006 to the 2001 level (2/26/07, Kim Yoon-mi)
(4) 'Korean civil society will diversify with time'; Excessive personal ties, ideology conflicts, poor government policies weaken civil society (2/28/07, Shin Hae-in)
(5) Social capital, a new source of competitiveness: Experts say Korea's future prosperity relies heavily on intangible assets in society (3/2/07, Lee Sun-young)
(6) Cyber communities promote social capital: 'People tend to cooperate online rather than breach trust, increasing solidarity' (3/5/07, Jang Won-ho) [and a companion piece Internet acess and its impact on social capital]
(7) Korea shifts toward more open social relations; More citizens need to participate in social networks to build trust (3/9/07, Yang Jung-ho)
(8) Koreans have low esteem for their government: Survey shows majority of people are negative about government's integrity, transparency (3/14/07, Choi He-suk)
(9) Citizens give judiciary low score in level of trust: Unfair rulings, involvement in corruption fan public distrust of law-enforcement authorities (3/15/07, Annie I. Bang)
(10) Public trust key to democratic governance: Inequality deepens conflict among people, causing a further drop in social trust (3/19/07, Han Joon)
Building social capital in the Singapore style; Racial quotas and heavy fines: the no-nonsense approach to government (3/23/07, Jillian Ong)
What government should do to create abundant social capital; Professor Han cites being accountable for policies (3/23/07, Park Jung-youn)
Sources of Social Capital
Korean civil society undergoing transition process(5/2/07)
[return to top of the page]
This Halloween, Superheroes Will Head to the Mall (NYT, 10/29/06, Julie Bick) citing Saguaro's own Thomas Sander on the corrosive effects of mall trick-or-treating.
Two prominent sociologists, Lynn Smith-Lovin and Miller McPherson, and former critics of Bowling Alone found confirming evidence of social isolation in the General Social Survey data. From 1985-2004, the percentage of Americans lacking anyone to discuss important matters with has nearly tripled. Almost half the U.S. population now has either no one or only one confidante with whom to discuss important matters. See June 23, 2006 stories in Boston Globe, Washington Post, and an essay in TIME magazine by Robert D. Putnam.
CNN also had a report called Lonely Nation (July 31, 2006)
Bowling Alone? (Summer 2006, Stanford Social Innovation Review) highlights research of Rob Sampson, Doug McAdams and Heather MacIndoe on Chicago (reported in the Nov. 2005 American Journal of Sociology, available here) that suggests that civic activism has not declined in last generation. Robert Putnam indicates that this may be true of the most active 5% of the population, but that there have been big civic declines in the U.S. population as a whole.
[return to top of the page]
Secrets of the Temple (NYT Op-Ed by John Tierney, 6/13/06) discusses the declines in men's fraternal organizations and the fact that women's social connectedness explains their longer life spans, but fails to see how the decline in fraternal organizations was part of a larger pattern of social disengagement, chronicled in Bowling Alone.
"A Success Story That's Hard to Duplicate" by Isabel Wilkerson (NYT, 6/12/05) in the culminating piece in the NYT 10-part investigation into Class in America ['Class Matters'] talks about how social capital and human capital are essential to class mobility.
A Social capital maven and entrepreneur Jane Jacobs who helped reinvigorate urban planning with an attention to social interaction died on 4/25/06. This New York Times obit summarizes her life and impact.
David Miliband (up-and-coming British member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister for Community Development) had an interesting speech on social capital and bridging and bonding (Building Community in a Diverse Society) in January 2006.
Thomas Sander's A Friend in Need describes the growing gap in social capital between rich and poor (11/14/05, Boston Globe).
"September 11 as Civics Lesson" by Thomas H. Sander and Robert Putnam (Washington Post Op-Ed. 9/10/05) presents evidence of a new civic 9-11 generation among youth.
David Brooks' Psst! 'Human Capital' (11/13/05, NYT) describes how social capital is an important component to human capital.
[return to top of the page]
“American Idle” by Lawrence Kaplan (The New Republic, 9/12/05) in a well-written article discusses the civic fallout of September 11, 2001, and how the fact that Americans were instructed by the Bush Administration early on that they could achieve victory on the cheap (without sacrifice) has only exacerbated the difficulties as the cost (both human and financial) have become all too real. We think there is a youth exception to his finding that there is no change from September 11.
"The glue of society: Americans are joining clubs again" (The Economist, 16 July 2005) discusses 3 interesting recent changes in American civil society.
"Shaken, Not Stirred" (National Journal, 9/13/2003 by Siobhan Gorman, pp. 2776-81) commented quite intelligently on how 9-11 had not dramatically changed the county's long-term civic habits.
"U.S. Attitudes Altered Little By Sept. 11, Pollsters Say” by Adam Clymer (NYT 5/20/02, p. 12)
"Living With a 9/11 State of Mind Mood: Many search for meaning and reinforce ties to loved ones. But will it last?” [L.A. Times, 2/11/02]
[return to top of the page]
“Lure of Millions Fuels 9/11 Families' Feuding” by David Chen (NYT, 6/17/02, p. A1) on how families of 9-11 victims were cooperating for a long time, but now feuds have started to appear.
Despite 'Mommy Guilt,' Time With Kids Increasing:Society's Pressures, Own Expectations Alter Priorities (Wash. Post, 3/21/07, Donna St. George, p. A1) citing recent data from University of Maryland time use survey. The gains came largely drom "cutting back markedly on housework, which was down more than 40 percent over 38 years. They also trimmed their free time -- and to some extent their sleep -- as they increasingly multi-tasked. Multi-tasking hours roughly doubled."
Making A Profit And A Difference (NYT, 10/5/06, Glenn Rifkin) discusses how local businesses that are environmentally friendly are attracting local clients who want to know the businesses from whom they buy, even in places like Grand Rapids. MI. Article also discusses BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) that have a "triple bottom line".
There have been a lot of news reports on the Transportation Safety Board's October 2006 report Commuting in America III.
In The War Against Wages (NYT, 10/6/06, Paul Krugman) he details the horribly social-capital destructive techniques of Wal-Mart trying to get rid of long-term, more expensive employees (requiring higher wages and benefits). Wal-Mart's tactics included making them move to distant towns or requiring sudden scheduling changes or refusing to let even older workers with back problems sit on stools. See also NYT editorial The Chair Out From Under Them. (10/3/06) [reprinted here] and Wal-Mart to Add More Part-Timers and Wage Caps (NYT, 10/2/06, Steven Greenhouse)
Offices Co-Opt Consumer Web Tools Like 'Wikis' and Social Networking (WSJ, 9/12/06, p. B1, Vauhini Vara).
“From Harvey Road to Crescent Drive, Something Changed” (Ben Stein article, 7/23/06 Sunday Business Section, p.3, NYT). Article draws link between declining neighbor connections, and fact that some CEOs were illegally back-dating stock options to make more money for themselves while thousands of Americans died during September 11, what Stein calls “death profiteering”. He tells the story by analogy of looking at a family called the Sculls that turned their pool into a community resource in the 1950s versus the privatization that exists today.
The Power of Social Capital. Harvard Management Update, vol. 11, issue 6 (June 1, 2006). Retired Cargill CEO, Whitney MacMillan, explains the critical value of social capital to corporate success and successful corporate strategies to build it.
Best Buy corporate has experimented with a system where workers can completely set their hours, provided they meet specified results. Management claims that productivity and morale has soared. Hear an NPR story here (7/19/06).
The Long and Grinding Road (Newsweek, Keith Naughton, 5/1/06) chronicles the rise and personal impact of extreme commuting, those traveling 90 minutes or more one-way to work -- the fastest growing commuting segment. ABC World News Tonight segment on this trend appeared on July 8, 2006 and featured Saguaro's Tom Sander.
See also Asleep at the Wheel? Morning Rush Hour Now Starts at 5 a.m. (WSJ, 10/17/06, Jennifer Saranow).
Like Shopping? Social Networking? Try Social Shopping (NYT, 9/11/06, p. 6, Bob Tedeschi) discusses emerging sites like ThisNext.com and Kaboodle.com.
The Office Chart That Really Counts: Mapping informal relationships at a company is revealing -- and useful (Business Week, 2/27/06), with this chart of why social capital analysis helps companies and an interview with Kate Ehrlich describing why social network analysis' time has come for businesses.
Companies Struggle To Pass On Knowledge That Workers Acquire (WSJ, 11/23/05, by Scott Thurm) discusses the difficulties of sharing knowledge among workers and how institutions like IBM and London's water provider learned the value of employee-to-employee connections (social capital) in sharing information not encapsulated in any manual.
President George Bush held a “Business and Justice” meeting (6/16/02) with leaders from 17 companies in the U.S. about how they could increase community service and volunteering in America.
Time Dollars founder Edgar Cahn has an interesting piece on the hidden economy that is driven by social capital called It's The Core Economy Stupid (2004).
“Perils of Part-Time: Flexible Work Hours Aren't Nearly as Heavenly as They Sound” by Sue Shellenbarger (WSJ, 6/27/02, p. D1)
How trust is becoming more important in business: “Mind Over Matter: Why Many Highfliers Built on Big Ideas Are Such Fast Fallers; Life-Cycles Shrink for Firms With Intangible Assets; Winstar’s 2-Year Tumble; `Trust Can Vanish Overnight’”by Greg Ip (WSJ, 4/4/02, p. A1)
“Ill Will: Skyrocketing Health Costs Start to Pit Worker vs. Worker --- Employees Gripe That Those With Bad Habits Drive Up Insurance Charges for All --- Is the Forklift Driver Too Fat?” by Timothy Aeppel (WSJ, 6/17/03), p. A1
“Missing the Boss: Not All Workers Find Idea of Empowerment As Neat as It Sounds --- Some Hate Fixing Machines, Apologizing for Errors, Disciplining Teammates --- Rah-Rah Types Do the Best” by Timothy Aeppel (WSJ, 9/8/97, p. A1) describing the team and worker dynamics of companies trying to empower workers.
“Workplace Trust, Openness Boost Firms' Futures”, Op-Ed by Don Cohen and Laurence Prusak (The Boston Globe, 9/22/02, p. E4)
“Schmoozing is a smooth career move” by Carol Kleiman (Chicago Tribune, 7/29/01, p. C1)
“Wired To Network Not Everyone Finds It Easy, But For Those Who Master The Art Of Schmoozing, Success May Be Just A Party Away” By Diane E. Lewis, (Boston Globe, 6/17/01, p. K1)
“A Town's Marketing Effort Neighbors Rescue Their General Store In Center Sandwich, A New Marketing Effort” By Shirley Elder, (Boston Globe, 2/25/01, Third Section p. 1, New Hampshire Weekly) describing New Hampshire Charitable Foundation’s effort to help the community buy back and keep their general store running.
Strength in small numbers: Rick Warren uses intimate ministries to help build community and a megachurch (Orange County Register, 10/15/2006)
Will Success Spoil Rick Warren? (Fortune Magazine, 10/31/05) about Saddleback founder's new PEACE program to tackle intractable international issues through the combined efforts of millions of churchgoers. (See also Purpose-Driven in Rwanda [Christianity Today, October 2005].)
"Faith Provides Insurance in Hard Times" (Rich Barlow, Boston Globe, Sept. 17, 2005) discussing recent research by Erzo Luttmer et al. that shows how being involved with religion can provide social, consumption, or happiness buffers to severe losses in income.
“Dose of spirituality has healthful effect” by Rich Barlow (Boston Globe. February 12, 2005) highlighting a variety of studies showing the health effects of religion.
The latest General Social Survey  (forthcoming by NORC at U. Chicago) is expected to show a 3 percentage point increase in at-least-weekly religious attendance in the last several years. Moreover, the WSJ article cited at the end of this paragraph describes an National Institutes of Health effort, led by a religious skeptic Lynda Powell, to untangle whether religion has health effects. The 3-scientist panel found that religion did not afford health benefits but religious attendance did (partly through its social capital effects but partly through undetermined pathways). (“Body and Spirit: Why Attending Religious Services May Benefit Health”, WSJ, 5/3/05, p. D1)
“Megachurches as Minitowns” by Patricia Leigh Brown (NYT, 5/9/2002, p. F1)
“Mass Migration: At a Bronx Church, New Latinos Meet Old, And Tension Ensues; Booming Mexican Population Creates Rifts, Rivalries Among Hispanic Groups; Chicken and Rice or Tacos?” by Eduardo Porter (WSJ, 08/07/2001, p A1). Article highlights the fact that building *Bridging social capital* is sometimes equally difficult within ethnicities (like Latinos, Asians, etc.). The WSJ article talks about all the difficulties of getting Mexicans, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans to get along (within a church community in the Bronx).
Revenge by Gadgets (WSJ, 8/17/07, Jennifer Saranow) on gadgets that enable one to take care of annoying behavior by other individuals.
Facebook Grows Up; At 19, Mark Zuckerberg came up with a new way for college kids to connect--and started an online revolution. Now 23, he's trying to build out his business without losing its cool. (Newsweek, Bsuiness Cover Story, 8/20/07)
Online social networking meets personal finance (International Herald Tribune, 8/7//07) describing Wesabe and Geezeo that use social networking software to have "similar" Americans offer each other financial advice.
Are you being listserved? (Financial Times, 5/11/07, Holly Yeager) on the social capital impact of listserves, kncluding quotes from Keith Hampton.
Twittervision: an interesting article in Slate called 'What Are You Doing?' (4/10/07) describes the phenomenon of Twitter which at some level connects one to the mundane doings of one's Internet 'friends' but may also be a voyeuristic way of evesdropping on others with whom one has no meaningful ties or simply wasting time.
A Call for Manners in the World of Nasty Blogs (NYT, 4/9/07, Brad Stone) describing Jimmy Wales, founder of WikiPedia, and Tim O'Reilly's efforts to bring civility to blogs through a series of principles.
Spy on Thy Neighbor: Swapping privacy for street justice and internet fame (Utne Reader, 2/1/07, Evelyn Hampton) discusses uses of technology for street justice, to police community norms, etc. Examples include websites like PlateWire where one can distribute the license plate numbers of reckless drivers or Don'tDateHimGirl (where woman can post their bad dating experiences with men).
It's a bit breezy on generalizations, but Omar's blog has a discussion of the potential social benefit of blogs. (1/1/07)
Cellphone as Tracker: X Marks Your Doubts (NYT, Sunday Business Section, p.3, Randall Stross) describes how the interconnection of cellphones with GPS is increasingly being used for social network software.
The Overconnecteds (NYT, 11/5/06, Education Life Supplement, p. 20, by Betsy Israel) debating the impact of college youth being overconnected and engaging in many forms of technological connection simultaneously.
In Teens' Web World, MySpace Is So Last Year (Washington Post, 10/29/06, p. A1, Yuki Noguch). Uses the key metric of average time spent online to trace the volatile rise and fall of various social network software. The average Xanga user (a precursor to Friendster) averaged 1 hour and 39 minutes a month on the site, "a figure that declined steadily, reaching only 11 minutes last month, according to Nielsen-NetRatings. Friendster, another older site, hit its first usage peak of 1 hour and 51 minutes in October 2003, and then hit another peak of 3 hours and 3 minutes in February 2006. But last month, the average user was on Friendster for a mere 7 minutes. MySpace usage ramped up heavily during its first year and a half, hitting 2 hours and 25 minutes in October last year. Then it dropped to about 2 hours and held relatively steady there for the past year. Facebook, a younger networking site, is still on a gradual incline, reaching 1 hour and 9 minutes last month." Article questions whether YouTube will have a similarly short half-life, since all the most popular websites for teens now are all ones that weren't in top ten list 6 months or 12 months ago.
MySpace, ByeSpace? --- Some Users Renounce Social Sites as Too Big (WSJ, 10/25/06, Vauhini Vara)
Ground Game (The Phoenix, 10/20/06, Adam Reilly) describes the savvy use of the Internet to mobilize social networks and grassroots support by Gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick.
MySpace for Baby Boomers (Business Week, 10/16/06) about Monster.com founder Jeff Taylor founding Eon.com to create an online community for boomers.
Sex Lies and Videogames (Atlantic Monthly, Nov. 2006, Jonathan Rauch) describes new emotionally-complex videogames like Facade, with two characters in marital crisis, as the future of videogames.
Living A Second Life (Economist, 9/28/06) about the very interesting rise of Second Life, a site where millions can live a parallel existence. Some individuals, like politicians, use Second Life as a virtual reality in which to test ideas or reactions of others. [On corporate marketers using SL, see A Virtual World But Real Money.] And Virtual World, Real Courtroom (Business Week, 10/16/06 p. 13) explains a lawsuit in a real courtroom by Marc Bragg against Linden Labs (owner of Second Life) for wrongfully canceling a virtual land purchase and expelling him from Second Life for alleged violation of auction rules. [In a community service twist, NYLC announced in December 2006 that *those unable to attend The 18th Annual National Service-Learning Conference: Beyond Borders, Beyond Boundaries, March 28-31, 2007, in Albuquerque, can attend it in Second Life* at the Global Kids Island in Teen Second Life.].
Keith Hampton alerted me to the fact that now one can reach out and virtually hug a chicken in Singapore that is wearing a 'hug suit.' He wonders how long until a human version is available. [Guardian article here, 11/9/05.]
TIME's "The Netroots Hit Their Limits" (Oct. 2, 2006) describes how net-based political groups are increasingly resorting to old fashioned tactics like phone calls and canvassing.
New Yorker's Know It All: Can Wikipedia Conquer Expertise (by Stacy Schiff, 7/31/06).
Newsweek's Cover Story The New Wisdom of the Web (4/3/06) details how the new resurgence of the Internet is about connecting individuals to each other.
The Pew Internet and American Life project issued in late January, 2006 their report called The Strength of Internet Ties: The internet and email aid users in maintaining their social networks and provide pathways to help when people face big decisions.
The February 7, 2006 radio show OpenSource focused on whether craigslist builds community and featured Saguaro's Executive Director Tom Sander, in addition to craigslist founder Craig Newmark, Zephyr Teachout (technological guru of the Howard Dean campaign), Michael Gibson (film-maker of 24 Hours on Craigslist) and musician David Cleaves. Click here to hear the OpenSource show.
The Pleasures Of the Text discussed instant messaging and its social ramifications (NY Times Sunday Magazine, 1/22/06 p. 15, by Charles McGrath).
A Guy Named Craig (New York magazine, Jan. 16, 2006) profiles Craigslist founder, Craig Newmark, some of his community-building techniques, and explores whether Craiglist.com is a threat to newspapers.
The siren call of MySpace.com (The News Tribune, Debby Abe, 1/8/06).
Bondage and Bridging Online (NY Times, 1/8/06, David Brooks Op-Ed) discusses the dark side of communication on online youth networking sites like MySpace.com and wonders whether the sexually suggestive and low-brow discussions are a code to show independence from parents or an indicator of anti-intellectualism.
in Your Facebook.Com (NY Times, Education Life section, 1/8/06, article by Nancy Hass) talks about police spying on facebook.com notices about upcoming parties and other evidence of negative social effects of facebook.
Online Wikipedia is not Britannica - but it's close (Christian Science Monitor, 1/5/06) discussing Wikipedia's false entry for John Seligman for a significant number of months and Nature's endorsement of Wikipedia's accuracy.
Getting Personal ; MySpace, Friendster and other networking sites have become hugely popular tools for sharing personal interests and meeting new people from all over. (Portland Press Herald, Josie Huang, 12/18/05).
The pretenders; Tweens lie to get onto MySpace.com. Who's watching the kids? (L.A. Times, 12/19/05, Robin Abcarian). [Article on same topic in: 'Explicit web site attracts pre-teens; Myspace.com craze a worry for parents.' (South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 25 November 2005)]
2005 | SHAKEN & STIRRED. Mass media's last blast: I want my MTV — and my TiVo, Palm Pilot, iPod, podcast and, of course, blog. So does America still have any interest in the big, lumbering, predictable media of Hollywood and Manhattan? (L.A. Times, 12/18/05 Reed Johnson)
The MySpace Generation; They live online. They buy online. They play online. Their power is growing
(BusinessWeek cover story, 12/12/05, Jessi Hempel)
The Invasion of MySpace It's a hot place to meet friends, or a magnet for creeps (Post-Ledger, 12/12/05)
Friendster's `Eww' Moment (WSJ, 12/8/05, Jessica Mintz) on how Friendster now enables users to see who has viewed their pages, a feature which Friendster users can now over-ride.
Too Much Information? --- Colleges Fear Student Postings On Popular `Facebook' Site Could Pose Security Risks
O.C. teen warned online of killing self: Social-networking Web sites raise issue of how to gauge seriousness of postings that threaten harm (Orange County Register, 12/2/05, Greg Hardesty)
The New York Times Year in Ideas (Dec. 2005) has an entry on "folksonomy" (that technology enables users to collectively come up with their own classification of a field, such as library books). [There is helpful 2x2 matrix of tagging approaches according to whether the tags that the user gives are public or private and whether it is classifying the user's stuff or others' stuff with folksonomies consisting of multiple people tagging the same item and the tagging being public.]
The Evite influx fills mailboxes; It's handy but some say the volume is annoying (Chicago Tribune, 11/27/05, Emilie Le Beau) on how facebook has spawned a surfeit of evites.
Facebook is new who's who for students: 6 million members use online networking service nationwide (Chicago Sun-Times, 11/14/05, Shamus Toomey)
Making facebook friends (The News & Observer, 10/26/05, Patrick Winn)
“Will new iPod incite a video revolution? It's not just for music anymore: Apple's new player aims to reinvent our life on the go with movies and TV shows” (Chicago Tribune, 10/13/05, by Geoff Dougherty and others) discusses whether the new video iPod will promote socializing or discourage conversation and social capital on places like the commuter trains.
A recent article suggested that the way around the most recent rash of cyber-security issues was to reintroduce social capital into the net by eliminating anonymity. (Washington Post, 6/26/05, "Viruses, Security Issues Undermine Internet" by Ariana Eunjung Cha)
Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay, discusses how technology is connecting people. (Business Week, 6/20/05) and see also The Power of Us in the same issue.
Tour the Collectives of Cyberspace discusses how Internet sites give power to the people and has a nice typology of the types of Internet sites. (Business Week, 6/20/05).
Erin Hoover Barnet, “Only disconnect ; Do social sites thwart young people's civic engagement?” (Times Picayune, 2/2/05, p.8) describing Livejournal.com and the civic impact of that weblogging site.
Millions Make Connections Via Web Site (Oakland Tribune, 3/28/05) about MySpace
Craig Newmark, the founder of Craiglist (featured in one of the chapters of Better Together) is eying a new venture to develop a community of amateur trusted journalists who would post stories (investigative and other) on craiglist and weblogs. (May 2005)
“Virtual, Real Worlds Unite; Meetups Use Internet For Face-To-Face Networking” by Robert Weisman (Boston Globe, 1/30/05, p. A1) on Meetup and its civic impact. There was also an interesting Boston Globe Editorial on Meetup entitled “Group Behavior” (2/23/05, p. A16) arguing that Meetup was an interesting phenomenon but should do more to encourage social and political stratification within groups.
Mobile phones could dial up a perfect match (Telegraph, 3/10/04) describes how a system called Serendipity can use cellphones and bluetooth technology to alert users when they are within roughly 20 feet of a potential mate who also has registered for the service (and is also using a bluetooth phone).
Harmon, Amy. “Guess Some People Don't Have Anything Better To Do” (New York Times, p. 5, Week in Review, 8/17/03), describing the advent of “flash mobs.” For more information on flash mobs or smart mobs click on the relevant words.
Duncan Watts and colleagues have done an interesting experiment using the web to test whether we are 6 degrees of separation away from any other person. Information on the experiment available here or click on Duncan Watts' Small World site at Columbia. (8/14/03)
“More Companies Pay Heed To Their 'Word Of Mouse' Reputation” By Nicholas Thompson (NYT, 6/23/03, p. C4) on how companies try to manage their online reputation
“In the tech meccas, masses of people, or 'smart mobs,' are keeping in touch through wireless devices” by John Schwartz (NYT, 7/22/2002, p. C4)
“Parallel Channel” by Esther Dyson (originally appeared in NYT 4/3/02). Article describes interesting use of wi-fi at conferences. "Instead of chatting aloud in a living room, the chatters are in the conference hall and online -- silent but active, so they don't disturb anyone. ... They can find the data to correct speakers as they "blog"(short for "Weblog"), posting real-time commentary about what's happening onstage.”
Vauhini Vara, “From Wikipedia's Creator, a New Site for Anyone, Anything” (WSJ, 3/28/05, p. B1). An interesting article about how William Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, a living encyclopedia created through the ongoing contributions of users who police and comment on each others' entries is now launching WikiCities that enables users to comment to each other on virtually anything in the city, such as college hockey, hairdressers, graffiti, etc.
William M. Bulkeley and Wailin Wong, “Six Degrees of Exploitation? --- New Programs Help Companies `Mine' Workers' Relationships For Key Business Prospects” (WSJ, 8/4/03, p. B1).
“Economists to explore world of online games: researchers could assess players' response to change” (San Francisco Chronicle, 8/1/05) discussing the potential of using subtle variations in software in online simulated games to see the social effects.
Love: Japanese Style (WIRED, Yukari Iwatani 06/11/98) about the LoveGety craze in Japan that combines technology with dating.
OTHER RESOURCES: Keith Hampton's weblog for articles at the intersection of technology and community. Paul Resnick also has a good weblog on the intersection of technology and social capital, although it's slightly more technical.
How Your Brain Allows You to Walk In Another's Shoes (WSJ, Robert Lee Hotz, p. B1, 8/17/7)
The International Labour Organization and the Johns Hopkins University Center for Civil Society Studies announced on April 30, 2007 that they will develop an approach for putting volunteer work on the economic map of the world for the first time. Tthe United Nations Volunteers (part of the U.N. Development Programme) is providing a start-up grant. The partnership will measurie volunteer work through official national labor force surveys worldwide and present the recommended approach to the International Conference of Labour Statisticians in Geneva, Switzerland, in December 2008.
Jill Neimark's The Good Life (Spirituality & Health, May-June 2007) talks about how giving can open one's soul,
Giving Back: Lollapaloozas for Volunteers(WSJ, 4/27/07, Jon Weinbach) describes various efforts, including L.A.'s Big Sunday, Austin's Clean Sweep or Philadelphia's MLK Day of Service that promote a massive day of volunteering.
Community Service: A Better Society? Or a Better Resume? (NYT, 3/25/07, Week in Review), quoting Robert Putnam on whetehr the motives for community service matter for their long-term impact. (The answer, usually not.)
In Shriner Spending, a Blurry Line of Giving (NYT, 3/19/07, p. A1, Stephanie Strom) describing the history of the Shriners and recent allegations of lax financial practices and a majority of the "charitable funds" being raised by Shriners for Shriner hospitals going to fund Shrine chapter expenses (including alcohol and parties).
Talladega Rites (Slate, 1/29/07, Seth Stevenson) highlights the Mason's sect (ScottishRite.org) that is undertaking a highly unusual campaign to attract younger members by having a NASCAR team.
The Old Kinship (Washington Post, 12/29/06, Lonnae O'Neal Parker, p. A1) about the fraying ties and traditional values of bowling league Team 33.
The centuries-old fraternity, in an effort to remain relevant, is shedding its secrecy in order to attract young members (Boston Globe, 10/15/2006,. Douglas Belkin) about new recruiting and advertising campaign of the Masons. The Corporation for National and Community Service announced a 'Get Involved' campaign to spur volunteering among Boomers. Latest government figures on volunteering show that the % of Americans 16 or older volunteering stayed unchanged from 2003-05 at 28.8%.
“Blood Supply Hits Lowest Level in Years; Surgeries Canceled” by Amy Dockser Marcus (WSJ, 6/26/2002 , p. D1)
There is very interesting material in conjunction with the wonderful documentary film about John Gardner, shown by PBS [John Gardner, among his many other feats, founded Independent Sector to advance research on the importance of the non-profit sector.]
John J. Fialka, “The Folks at Lodge 88 Are Trying to Build A Better Moose Trap --- Fraternal Order Branches Out To Attract More Families; Its New Bar Has Just 7 Seats” (WSJ, 11/8/96, p. A1)
Not quite social capital but interesting story on the e-kindness of others: “After the Science Fair: Dear World, Please Stop Writing Me --- A Girl's E-Mail Experiment Clogs In-Box for Weeks; Update on the Reindeer” by June Kronholz (WSJ, 2/13/03, p. A1)
Another example of this was at www.savekaryn.com. A woman who had racked up huge credit card debts started a humorous site to get strangers to donate money to pay off her bills and succeeded in getting them paid off!
“Anonymous donations grew a bumper crop of kindness” by Stephanie Simon (L.A. Times), reprinted in 8/5/02 Seattle Times.
Given the strong links of social capital with equality, we present these recent articles about inequality.
Harold Meyerson, Whatever happened to sharing the pie of prosperity? More Americans now see the US as a place of haves and have-nots. That wasn't supposed to happen (Christian Science Monitor Op-Ed, 10/3/07)
David Brooks had Op-Ed (Edwards, Obama and the Poor, NYT, 7/31/07, reprinted here) evaluating whether Barack Obams's investment in poor places or John Edwards' strategy of investing in poor people through vouchers was more fruitful; Brooks lauds Obama's place-based poverty strategy. Taubman's Ed Glaeser counters that the social capital-based personal strategy makes more sense. (NY Sun Op-Ed, 8/7/07)
Bill Gates in his Harvard commencement address (2007). Gates said “Be activists. Take on big inequities...You have an awareness of global inequity, which we did not have. And with that awareness you likely have an informed conscience that will torment you if you abandon these people whose lives you could change with very little effort.” [MORE..]
Economist Special Report. Marriage in America: The Frayed Knot (May 24, 2007) on fact that divorce rate is rising among less educated Americans and falling among more educated Americans and the benefits that accrue to married couples economically. The net consequence of these trends is that leads us more toward a caste society.
American Cities and the Great Divide (NYT, 5/22/07, Bob Herbert) describes how we've returned to a Gilded Age and cites an illustration where a high school student couldn't imagine a dinner for 4 in NYC could cost $500. He said 'How Much Can You Eat?"
John Edwards at the end of December (2006) plans to launch his campaign for president in 2008 in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans (site of horrendous Hurricane Katrina devastation) and focus on reducing poverty as a cornerstone of his campaign.
James Webb (D-VA), elected in 2006 who ran on a very moderate platform -- some thought he was almost indistinguishable from his Republican opponent Allen -- wrote this Op-Ed Class Struggle (WSJ, 11/15/06) about the need to take action against the growing class divides in America.
Inequality and the American Public: Results of the Third Annual Maxwell Poll (Conducted Sept-Oct. 2006). 57% of Americans think the income gap has increased over the last 5-10 years (2006) vs. 45% in 2004 and 55% expect it to grow over the next five years, up from 37% in 2004. And almost 3/4 of Americans (71%) believe we're becoming a nation of haves and have-nots. Two thirds of Americans, however think that all or most Americans have the opportunity to succeed versus 1/3 that think only some can succeed. 52% of Americans think the income gap is a serious problem in America and a further 31% see it as somewhat of a problem in America. Surprisingly the gaps in views about inequality aren't as varied by levels of income of the respondent as one would expect.
Whining Over Discontent (NYT, 9/8/06, by Paul Krugman) claims that inequality is rising in salience because more and more Americans are not advancing economically. Krugman claims that the right has misused statistics to make it sound as though most Americans are better off now than a decade or two ago.
David Brooks: [NYT columnist has had an interesting series of pieces on inequality]
1) He chronicles the growing gap between the college-educated and those who aren't and highlights that economic class of parents is now more predictive of children's outcomes than before in "The Education Gap." (NYT 9/25/05).
2) And then in a follow-up article entitled "Pillars of Cultural Capital." (NYT 10/6/05) discussed some efforts to try to reduce these gaps.
3) Both SIdes Of Inequality (NYT 3/26/06)
4) Of Love and Money (NYT, 5/25/06) highlighting the changing basis of inequality in America -- from race and sex discrimination to family background and home environment -- and highlights how the poor are consuming beyond their means and promising and less promising strategies to ameliorate inequality.
5) The Populist Myths of Income Inequality (NYT, 9/7/06). Brooks claims that "government policy is not driving inequality and wage stagnation; cites statistics to show that workers over all are not getting smaller slice of pie, that offshore outsourcing is not decimating employment, that jobs are not more insecure, that workers are not stuck in dead-end jobs, and that declining unionization has not been driving force behind inequality; says what is needed is not populist revolt but second generation of human capital policies, designed to help people get intangible skills economy rewards." (Source: NYT Abstracts) [Dean Baker in American Prospect claims Brooks got some of his facts wrong.]
Rich, Poor Live Poles Apart in L.A. as Middle Class Keeps Shrinking (L.A. Times, 7/23/06, Nancy Cleeland). " A growing body of research shows Los Angeles to be a region of extreme polarization, where rich and poor live in separate neighborhoods, surrounded by others like themselves."
WSJ Op-Ed The Mother of All Electoral Issues by Steven Rattner (7/19/06) highlights how inequality should be the issue that Democrats highlight in 2008. He notes that income growth over the last 5 years has been double for the top 10% what it has been for the bottom 10%. And he notes that in 2006, the top 10% of taxpayers are expected to produce 56.2% of the income versus 52% as recently as 2000 and highest ever recorded.
Hurricane Katrina has underscored the issue of inequality in America, both its ugly presence and that the poor were disproportionately likely to be affected by the hurricane. There are interesting inequality parallels with Katrina and the 1889 Johnstown flood (in PA). The wealthy South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club—members included Carnegie, Fricke, and Mellon had an earthen dam that had not been maintained, and water overflowed the dam, traveling 15 miles downstream and killing several thousand poor people in Johnstown. Johnstown occurred at a peak of income inequality in the U.S. (much as Katrina). The wealthy were never held accountable for the damage or the deaths.
Other articles on inequality and Katrina:
Polls Explore Racial Attitudes: Response to the storm divides blacks, whites by Steven Thomma (Detroit Free Press, 9/13/05)
Money and motorcars - the difference between safety and despair (Guardian, 9/6/05)
The poor reap the whirlwind (Guardian, 9/5/05)
Receding floodwaters expose the dark side of America - but will anything change? (Guardian, 9/5/05)
After the Katrina tragedy, the looters come with their lies and half-truths (London Times Online, 9/2/05, Op-Ed article by Gerard Baker)
[read articles on social impact of Katrina here.]
Other articles/books on inequality:
Annette Lareau, Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life
The Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) at Australian National University's January 2006 report Does equality lead to fraternity? finds that a rise in inequality across 59 countries is associated with a drop in interpersonal trust.
Daniel Golden of the WSJ had a very interesting series of articles on the fact that colleges are less of a meritocracy than one expects and give strong preferences to legacies. Soon to be a very interesting forthcoming book, for a list of the articles that were part of this series click here.
The New York Times had a 12-part series 'Class Matters' on inequality in 2005. The culminating story in the series has a direct discussion of the importance of social capital.
The Wall Street Journal also had an 8-part series on inequality in 2005, called 'Moving Up: The Challenges to the American Dream'. Here are links to them:
David Wessel, As Rich-Poor Gap Widens in U.S., Class Mobility Stalls (WSJ, 5/13/05)
Bob Davis, 'Lagging Behind the Wealthy, Many Use Debt to Catch Up. U.S. Borrowing Hits Record; Soul-Searching in Utah As Bankruptcies Surge 'Monster' or Sign of Progress?' (WSJ, 5/15/05)
Robert Frank, Rich vs. Richer. In Palm Beach, The Old Money Isn't Having a Ball. Influx of New Wealth Sparks Spat Over Red Cross Event; Inheritance's Smaller Role. A 1930s Landmark Is Razed (WSJ, 5/20/05)
Joel Millman, 'Slow Train, Promotion Track Fades for Those Starting at Bottom: Decline of In-House Training, Rise of Outsourcing Leave More Stuck in Menial Jobs. Lessons From N.Y.'s Subways (WSJ, 6/6/05)
As Economy Shifts, A New Generation Fights to Keep Up (WSJ, 6/22/05)
David Luhnow and John Lyons, In Latin America, Rich-Poor Chasm Stifles Growth (WSJ, 7/18/05)
Once Here Illegally, the Laras Savor Children's Success (WSJ, 7/20/05)
Our Society's Middle Is Shrinking from View by Louise Auerhahn (San Jose Mercury News, 7/26/05)
Minding About the Gap: America worries that it is becoming a class society. With reason (The Economist, 6/15/05)
The Mobility Myth by Bob Herbert (New York Times, 6/6/05)
Mobility vs. Nobility by Michael Kinsley (Washington Post, 6/5/05)
The Moral-Hazard Myth by Malcolm Gladwell (New Yorker, 8/29/05) which describes the class implications of fundamentally different conceptions of health care use in America and how it relates to insurance, Health Savings Accounts, etc.
Thomas Sander's A Friend in Need describes the growing gap in social capital between rich and poor (11/14/05, Boston Globe). Education/Youth
Neal Peirce, New Path to University Success (7/15/07) describing efforts of universities (like Univ. of Penn.) to build more social capital.
What's Wrong With This Picture? Racism isn't dead, but it's often no big deal for 'Millennials' in matters of friendship and romance (Wash. Post, 3/18/07, Justin Britt-Gibson, p. B1)
Gen Y's ego trip takes a nasty turn: A new report suggests that an overdose of self-esteem in college students could mean a rough road ahead (L.A. Times, 2/27/07, Larry Gordon and Louis Sahagun).
An Assault on Local School Control (NYT editorial, 12/4/06) discussing the Supreme Court's reviews of Seattle and Louisville's voluntary approaches to promoting racially integrated education. The Supreme Court's decision could influence the opportunity for bridging social capital to form in schools. [See also, Supreme Court justices face new arguments on desegregation, racial preferences (International Herald Tribune, 12/4/06)] The cases being heard are Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, 05-908; and Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education, 05-915. [Likely swing vote, Anthony Kennedy, seemed to indicate his aversion to the systems in his oral argument questioning.]
The Overconnecteds (NYT, 11/5/06, Education Life Supplement, p. 20, by Betsy Israel) debating the impact of college youth being overconnected and engaging in many forms of technological connection simultaneously.
What's Orange, Bright and Read All Over? (NYT, 11/5/06, Education Life Supplement, Melanie Kaplan) describing the rise in college students attaching an OrangeBand - a swathe of orange material - to their knapsack to indicate they want to engage in civil discourse with other students about political issues. Eight thousand OrangeBands have been distributed, but momentum may have stalled.
Generation Y gets involved ; Shaped by 9/11, millennials are socially conscious, if not radical (USA Today, 10/24/06, Sharon Jayson, p. D1)
Cuts illuminate SUN uncertainties (Oregonian, 8/3/06) highlights pressures to cut the Schools Uniting Neighborhoods program that integrates neighbors into schools through after-school activities.
The Right Place, The Right Time (By William G. O'Callaghan Jr. and Charles M. Irish, School Administrator, Feb. 2006) outlines how school superintendents can play a role in spurring civic engagement.
“Wanted: Someone to look up to” by Marilyn Gardner (Christian Science Monitor, 7/18/02) describing A Call to Heroism, a book by Peter Gibbon (Harvard School of Education) that looks at what has happened to heroes in our culture, and how the youth feel about heroes.
“Revival in Civics Education Is Explored” by Dana Milbank (Wash. Post, 5/11/02) discussing the Bush Administration’s plans to promote civics
“Class Project: Planning for Their Kids, Well-Off Parents Try To Prep a Public School; L.A.'s Divided Worlds Collide As Group Tests Patience Of Staff, Other Families; No Tamales on the Grounds” by Lisa Bannon (WSJ, 08/23/2001, p. A1). An interesting article about a wealthy group in L.A. trying to fix up a local public school that has a significant Hispanic population and send their kids there. The results are not all successful with questions about motives raised, enclaves within the schools, issues of stereotypes, etc.
“Biracial Couples Report Tolerance; Survey Finds Most Are Accepted by Families” by Darryl Fears and Claudia Deane (Washington Post, 07/05/2001, p. A1). Reports on Washington Post that found that 40% of Americans report inter-racial dating and 30% said it was “serious”; these numbers were even higher for younger Americans.
“Two D.C. Schools Make Bid for Understanding” by Justin Blum. (Washington Post, 4/2/2001, p. B1) about a more successful effort to build bridging social capital through a joint fundraiser between a poor Anacostia school and wealthy NW Washington school.
“Taking Ownership In The Future”. Op-Ed by Michael Brown and Alan Khazei of City Year (in Boston Globe on 1/25/05) advocates becoming an ownership society through a National Service Baby Bond Initiative. $6,000 would be invested for each baby born in America which would be worth $20,000 by the time the child turned 18 and $45,000 by the time the child reached age 30. The child could access this pool of resources for education, home down payment or other important uses by serving his or her country in national service for a year or two. A more recent Op-Ed by Khazei/Brown Uncle Sam Wants You (Globe, 12/5/05) called for a return to the GI Bill.
Building Social Capital on College Campuses: Outside the Classroom and Online (by Keith Lue).
"Scientists Draw Link Between Morality And Brain's Wiring" (WSJ, 5/10/07, Science Journal, Robert Lee Hotz) Describes a recent experiment of neuroscientists at Harvard, Caltech and the University of Southern California that uncovered why most of us have an intuitive sense of right or wrong, i.e., because there is a neural wiring that produces moral judgment. [more]
Part of juding trustworthiness is detecting lying. Read The Turth About Lying and Laughing, about one social pyschologist's attempt to gauge how good we are at detecing lies. (Guardian, 4/1/2007
It's not a news story, but see a depressing distrustful attitude 'voiced' by an Accra, Ghana resident can be seen in this February 9, 2007 photo. (photo courtesy of Rubin Puentes).
Where Have All the Flower Children Gone? Why you're not demonstrating against the Iraq war (Slate, 12/14/06, Jacob Weisberg)
Congress and the Benefits of Sunshine (NYT Editorial, 12/14/06) about the PunchClock pledge by Representative-elect Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to list who she meets with in Congress each day (including lobbyists) in an effort to increase transparency and voter trust of their elected representative.
New Orleans Voters Support Their Man Over F.B.I. (NYT, 12/11/06, Adam Nossiter). In an amazing vote of loyalty and trust, constituents of Representative William Jefferson,was re-elected in a runoff election, despite him being under Federal investigation for bribery. The election highlighted issues of black-white distrust in this poor district where a black electorate was increasingly likely to think that Jefferson was set up bywhite government officials.
The Road to Reliable Elections (NYT Editorial, 12/11/06) discusses the growing scientific consensus that electronic voting machines without paper trails can not be protected from fraud.
Handle with Care -- Power is Wisdom, but they are Often Confused. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/3/06, Mark Desantis Op-Ed). Desantis writes: "[S]ocial capital...reflects the reality that our source of power lies in our network of relationships -- a network anchored in mutual respect, trust and integrity. It is something that must be nurtured, cultivated and never taken for granted. Some of those [politicians] voted out this fall forgot or never knew this fact."
Nov. 2006: Various efforts by representatives in government subject themselves to the same rules, morality and risks that citizens face. This offers a promising strategy to restore the loss of trust of many Americans in their governmental leaders. Charles Rangel wants to reinstate the draft so that Senators and Representatives declaring war will risk sending their children off to battle, much as many low-income families do now through the 'all-volunteer' army. Senator Barack Obama frequently takes public HIV-AIDS tests as an example for the behavior that he asks others to undergo.
It does not concern social capital per se, but a new reality TV show has emerged in Canada ("The Next Great Prime Minister") where 18-25 year olds can apply and be grilled and judged by 4 former Canadian Prime Ministers. [See 11/30/06 story here.] This mirrors an American show in 2004 called The American Candidate in which 100 contestants ran to see who would be the best president; a story on The American Candidate can be found here.
A lack of social capital: What really counts; Low voter turnout is looked on as a crisis in this country, but that might be missing the point, writes Kenneth Kidd. Which in turn means that simply urging people to cast a ballot is also misguided (Toronto Star, 11/12/06)
Remember to Vote, Hope that it Counts (NYT, 10/30/06, Michael Waldman, Wendy Weiser and Open, NY, Op-Art) visualizing ways in which vote could be suppressed in the 2006 elections. [partial text but not graphic available here.]
A NYT Editorial highlights potential concerns with votes in the 2006 elections, Protecting the Right to Vote (11/6/06)
And another article on voter suppression called Hold, Hamper Hinder (American Prospect, Robert Kuttner, 10/31/06)
Republicans assert that these techniques are necessary to ensure that only legitimate voters vote, despite the chilling effect that these techniques can have on immigrants or others voting.
A Post-Election Op-Ed, What's Wrong With My Voting Machine? (NYT, 12/4/06, Adam Cohen) highlights all the problems with electronic voting machines and why they are unreliable.
Democrats, Playing Catch-Up, Tap Database to Woo Potential Voters (WSJ, 10/31/06, p. A1, Yochi J. Dreazen) is an interesting article describing Democratic efforts to mirror what Republicans have been doing in microtargeting voters. The Republicans are using TargetPoint Consulting (Arlington, VA) and the Democrats are using Copernicus Analytics. Both hope that they can use the microtargeting to bring an extra 5,000-10,000 votes in each close Congressional race. "Copernicus's chief scientist, Ben Yuhas, likens microtargeting to searching for a needle in a haystack -- over and over again. The spreadsheet on a single voter from one of the states where Copernicus is operating contains more than 500 rows of information, ranging from whether a prospect lives in an apartment or house to commercially purchased data on the type of car the voter drives. Mr. Yuhas has developed mathematic formulas based on such factors as length of residence, amount of money spent on golf, voting patterns in recent elections and a handful of other variables to calculate the likelihood that a particular American will vote Democratic." See also Know Thy Voter (National Journal, 9/15/06, Marc Ambinder).
GOP Mines Data for Every Tiny Bloc (L.A. TImes, 9/24/06, Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten).
In R.I., a Model for Voter Turnout (Washington Post, 9/24/06, p. A23, Jim VandeHei and Chris Cillizza) describes the Republican mobilization efforts on behalf of Senator Lincoln Chafee to enable him to win the primary. The articles indicates: " About six months ago, the National Republican Senatorial Committee sat down with the Chafee campaign to construct a voter-turnout program. Weekly phone calls followed and a number of NRSC senior staffers -- including political director Blaise Hazelwood -- made regular trips to the state to ensure the structure was being built. They identified potential Chafee voters and pressed Democrats to change their party identification to "unaffiliated," a move that would allow them to vote in the Republican primary. As the campaign wore on, Republicans began another slew of phone calls to unaffiliated voters to tell them that they could vote for Chafee and then immediately change their registration back to unaffiliated or Democrat. The RNC road-tested a new technology [to make] their targeting program faster and more precise. It...allows volunteers to call potential voters, note their political views and preferences on sheet of paper and immediately scan the results into a huge database known as the Voter Vault. Experts in the political practice known as microtargeting can then instantly analyze the results to determine which issues are moving voters and adjust their pitch."
For another article on voter microtargeting, see With bits of data, parties assemble a voter portrait ; In tight races, details add up(Boston Globe, 11/6/06, p. a8, Michael Kranish).
The Decline Of Trust (Washington Post Op-Ed, 10/30/06, columnist Sebastian Mallaby) discussing the declines in trust of government from 2002 to present and increases in focus on government accountability.
Ground Game (The Phoenix, 10/20/06) describes the strong efforts made by Gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick to mobilize the grassroots including his savvy use of the Internet.
TIME's "The Netroots Hit Their Limits" (Oct. 2, 2006) describes how net-based political groups are increasingly resorting to old fashioned tactics like phone calls and canvassing.
In The Activism Industry, Dana Fisher explains the cost of the political left's outsourcing their canvassing to college students on commission. (American Prospect, September, 2006). See also this related article called Scorching The Grass Roots? (The Chronicle of Higher Education, David Glenn, 9/15/06). Activism, Inc. available here.
The New Yorker's Mind Games (9/18/06 by John Casidy) discusses neuroeconomics, but there is some discussion in the article about trust and the importance of oxytocin in this process.
The GOP knows you don't like anchovies: Unpopular Republicans still own the art of politicking (L.A. Times Op-Ed, 6/25/06, Peter Wallsten and Tom Hamburger) about Republicans microtargeting voters.
In Expert Exodus (Governing Magazine, February 2006), Christopher Conte explores the issue of "knowledge mapping" in the public sector, and the risk posed to government as Baby Boomer employees who are key social capital conduits in public sector organizations retire and take their knowledge with them.
An interesting essay on social capital and the irony of being an anti-social socialist can be found in "Left Alone: The lure of private life in a time of public peril" (Garret Keizer, Mother Jones, Nov/Dec 2005).
Broad Antiwar Brushstrokes: Mall Rats (The New Republic, 10/10/05, Lawrence Kaplan) about why the anti-war effort against Iraq hasn't gotten more traction.
The conservative National Journal highlights trends in trust in government since 1976 and hypothesizes that if government's attempts to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina falter, it could lead to markedly lower numbers in trust of government. See "In the Wake of Katrina, Will Anger at Government Storm Back?" (9/30/05 by Jonathan Rauch)
Contra Costa County Supervisor's has launched an initiative to get citizens more engaged. (See "Supervisor Wants to Get Residents Off the Couch and Into Civic Issues", Contra Costa Times, 9/20/05, p. F4)
“Blank Spots On Ballots; Dearth Of Candidates Raises Concerns” by Franco Ordonez (Boston Globe, 5/13/03, Third Section, p. 1).
“Army Town Is Family Circle --- Hinesville, Ga., Strives to Maintain Community During War” by John D. McKinnon (WSJ, 4/30/03, p. A4) about military’s attempt to keep families together.
Bruce Ackerman and James Fishkin propose a national holiday in October called Deliberation Day. See this article or this book in which there would be national citizen deliberations on important issues upcoming in the election and participating individuals would be paid. Results would be shared more broadly with the electorate to see how individuals intensively involved in grappling with the issues and asking targeted questions of the experts felt about key issues upon deep reflection. (2/23/04)
“New York Expands Experiment to Bring Courts and Communities Closer” by Robert F. Worth (NYT 5/20/02, p. 3) on the revival of community courts. (only the abstract is free, need to buy rest of article)
“Once Bitten, Twice Shy: A World of Eroding Trust” by Janny Scott (NYT, 4/21/02, Week in Review, Section 4, p. 5)
“A Sea Of Distrust: If you can't believe in your priest or accountant, society's in big trouble -- risking depletion of the social capital that keeps things running” By Fred Tasker (The Miami Herald, 5/6/02, p. F1)
“New chapter opens on study of brain” by Henry Fountain (NYT, 4/2/05), citing paper by Steven Quartz a neuroscientist at Caltech and P. Read Montague, a professor of neuroscience at Baylor. The paper is also published in Science magazine [Miller, Neuroscience: Economic Game Shows How the Brain Builds Trust, Science (2005) 308:36.] Newspaper article abstract here.
“Scan Shows If People Trust You” (BBC News, 4/1/05) discusses Baylor College of Medicine team's use of MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) to determine levels of trust based on activity in the brain region called the caudate nucleus.
A BBC News Article “Scientists Create Trust Potion” (6/5/05) discusses how scientists were able to increase levels of trust in a trust game for subjects given a nasal spray of oxytocin. Interestingly, the nasal spray had no effect on subjects playing against a computer.
[more articles on trust can also be found immediately below in the Medicine/Health/Science section]
[see also articles in above section on Government/Trust that discuss medical studies of trust.]
"Scientists Draw Link Between Morality And Brain's Wiring" (WSJ, 5/10/07, Science Journal, Robert Lee Hotz) Describes a recent experiment of neuroscientists at Harvard, Caltech and the University of Southern California that uncovered why most of us have an intuitive sense of right or wrong, i.e., because there is a neural wiring that produces moral judgment. [more]
The Ailing — or Wailing — Baby Boomers (NYT, 3/5/07, John Tierney) discusses the worse health outcomes of boomers as compared with their parents. [Underlying paper available here.] Tierney doesn't make the connection, but it's exactly what one would expect from the lower levels of social capital found among the Boomer generation in comparison to the Long Civic Generation. [See book chapter on this by Robert D. Putnam/Thomas Sander.]
How Do You Measure People Skills? The elusive landscape of social intelligence. (Slate, 11/14/06, Paul Harris) reviewing Daniel Goleman's very interesting new book Social Intelligence.
Alone for far too long in Omaha (Omaha World-Herald, 10/23/06) describes a 59-year old woman (Karen Freelin) who died in Omaha. As an extreme example of social isolation, no one found out she had died for a year.
D.R. Holtgrave and colleagues at Johns Hopkins University found that social capital significantly reduced rates of obesity and diabetes, and the effect was more powerful than the effect of reducing income disparities. [Full article called Is social capital a protective factor against obesity and diabetes? Findings from an exploratory study Annals of Epidemiology, 2006;16(5):406-408).]
A David Brooks Op-Ed (NYT 10/2/05), "Longer Lives Reveal The Ties That Bind Us", reviews the recent RAND Corporation report headed by Leon Kass, and describes how social ties will be essential to dealing with the coming aging crisis.
"What Other People Say May Change What You See" (NYT, 6/28/05, by Sandra Blakeslee, Science Times, p. 3) reports on Gregory Berns, an Emory University neuroscientist, who used brain scans to assess the process of social conformity. [The experiment mirrored famous experiments in the 1950s by Prof. Solomon Asch in which people asked to identify lines of the same length. The longer the number of confederates that purposely gave the same incorrect answer before the interview subject, the greater the subject's likelihood of concurring with this false answer.] The article states: "...social conformity showed up in the brain...in regions that are entirely devoted to perception. But independence of judgment -- standing up for one's beliefs -- showed up as activity in brain areas involved in emotion, the study found, suggesting that there is a cost for going against the group." Research published in the June 22, 2005 online edition of Biological Psychiatry.
"Social Network's Healing Power is Borne Out in Poorer Nations" discusses why the better experience of poorer nations like India, Nigeria or Columbia is explained by stronger social networks. (Washington Post, article by Shankar Vedantam, 6/27/05, p. A1)
"The Secrets of Successful Aging: What science tells us about growing older -- and staying healthy" by Tara Parker-Pope (WSJ, Personal Health Special Section, 6/20/05, p. R1) discusses the importance of social ties in longevity.
“Meet, Mingle and Stay Healthy” by Nicholas Bakalar (NYT, 5/3/05, Health and Fitness Section, p. 8) discussing Carnegie Mellon University study of Sarah Pressman showing that people who were socially isolated had weaker immune response to flu shots. Research was reported in Health Psychology journal. See description here.
“Brain Experts Now Follow The Money” by Sandra Blakeslee (NYT, 6/17/03, Science Times section, p. 1) discussing Neuroeconomics and what scientists are learning about cooperation.
"Friends may be key to living longer" (Reuters News, 6/16/05 by Merritt McKinney). Article cites research by Lynn Giles and colleagues that found that older Australians with stronger friendship networks were less likely to die in the next 10 years, but that relative networks did not demonstrate the same health benefit. [Full scholarly article at: Lynne C Giles, Gary F V Glonek, Mary A Luszcz, and Gary R Andrews. 'Effect of social networks on 10 year survival in very old Australians: the Australian longitudinal study of aging', Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 2005; 59: 574-579.]
“Finding Someone Who Feels Your Pain: Matching Services Connect Sick Patients” by Tara Parker-Pope (WSJ, 12/17/02, p. D1)
“A conversation with Lee Clarke: Living One Disaster After Another, And Then Sharing the Experience” by Claudia Dreifus (NYT, 5/20/03, p. F2) [a discussion with an expert on citizen responses to disasters who talks about humans interaction and trust of one another]
“Why We’re So Nice: We’re Wired to Cooperate” by Natalie Angier (NYT, 7/23/02)
“Social life nothing to sneeze at” by Bruce Bower (7/5/97, Science News, Vol. 152, No. 1, p. 11).
Psychologist Sheldon Cohen of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and his coworkers found that “In the battle against the common cold, heavy doses of social interaction may provide as much or more help than such time-honored balms as plenty of rest and orange juice….Individuals who move in a wide circle of family members, friends, and acquaintances gain powerful protection against infection with cold viruses.”
“The Urge to Punish Cheats: It Isn't Merely Vengeance” by Natalie Angier (NYT, 1/22/02, p. F1)
[return to top of the page]
“Capital: The Civilizing Effect Of the Market “ by David Wessel (WSJ, 1/24/2002, p. A1) on experiments across the world showing how capitalism and free markets leads to higher levels of trust and cooperation,
New Urbanism/mixed use housing/Architecture/Suburbs
Forget twin beds; separate bedrooms gain favor (Commercial Appeal, reprinted from NY Times News Service article by Tracie Rozhon, 4/3/07) describes the current and projected rise of houses with separate his and her master bedrooms which can hardly be seen as a net gain for familiy togetherness.
Once at Cotillions, Now Reshaping the Cityscape (NYT, 1/15/07, p. A1, by Diane Cardwell) aAbout NYC city planner Amanda Burden’s who meticulous efforts at city planning, in the tradition of William Whyte, aim to make New York a more livable and interactive space.
Some Canadian papers have covered a U.Cal. Irvine paper that purports to show that living in suburbs actually leads to more social capital. See for example. People happier in suburbs: Neighbourliness increases with the distance between neighbours (Edmonton Journal, 11/11/06, Shannon Proudfoot), although results of U.Cal. Irvine paper depend heavily on how one operationalizes living in "suburbs." [Another mention of this study in Suburbs beat big cities for Americans' social lives, study suggests / Sprawl historian calls newest finds a welcome counter to 'burb- bashing (Houston Chronicle, 12/16/06, Roy Rivenburg, p. 36).]
Zoning Out: Looking to spend less on gas? Why overhauling the outdated rules of development would help. A perspectives essay in the Boston Sunday Globe (6/4/06) by Anthony Flint that explains how many zoning laws prohibit high density living conditions that would lead to more social capital or less gas use.
The Battle for Biloxi (Sunday New York Times Magazine, 5/21/06) has a very interesting article on the drive and ultimate failure of Andres Duany to redevelop Biloxi as a New Urbanist community after Katrina devastation; the drive failed when FEMA regulations required houses to be built at an elevation above sea level that made most of their designs infeasible. See also The Man With the Plan --- New Urbanist Leader Duany Forges Ahead With His Ideas For Rebuilding New Orleans (WSJ, by Douglas A. Blackmon and Thaddeus Herrick, 5/23/06, p. B1) and New Urbanist-Style Architect Sets His Sights on New Orleans --- Duany Makes His Case to Lead Rebuilding of New Orleans Area (WSJ, by Thaddeus Herrick, 4/26/06).
Alley, Alley in Free: Neighbors Debate Whether Urban Grids Breed Trouble or Togetherness by By Karen Tanner Allen (Washington Post, 1/7/05, p. F05) discusses under what conditions alleys become civic places rather than crime problems.
"In Exurbs, Life Framed By Hours Spent in Car" (NYT, 12/18/05 by Rick Lyman) describes the continued exurbanization process outside of Dallas, TX (extending to Frisco) and the impact it has had on civic life (like the difficulty in finding soccer coaches or residents willing to serve on school committee).
"The New College Mixer" (NYT, 9/1/05 by Bradford McKee) describes a new dormitory built by Swarthmore College (PA) called Alice Palace Hall and the efforts that were made to promote social capital through design (like creating lounges off the laundry room, having intimate nooks, an inaccessible elevator to encourage residents to use the central staircase, etc.). A description of this from the student's perspective can also be found here.
[return to top of the page]
“Brave Old World At A Recent Conference, Advocates Of Walkable Cities And Quaint Small-Town Architecture Plot To Take Over America” by Anthony Flint (Boston Globe, 6/29/03, p. D4)
Concord Monitor article that notes that front porches sit well with a new generation (8/5/02)
Neal Peirce, “New Urbanism: Breakthrough Or Diversion?” (5/27/01)
National Geographic in July 2001 had an article on Sprawl including a primer on New Urbanism.
“Is This Your Beautiful House?” by Ron Lieber (Fast Company Magazine, July 2001, issue 48, p. 124). Back in the 1960s, the suburbs were a place to escape from -- a plastic trap. Now the generation that fled "little boxes made of ticky-tacky" has its own suburban reality -- and its own question: Is this the future that we want to live in?
Living Together: Community life on mixed tenure estates by Ben Jupp . He argues for such mixed-income developments in the U.K. even though they don't seem to lead to more bridging social relationships. There is an interesting website that gives awards for well-designed livable communities and public space at: http://www.brunerfoundation.org/
[return to top of the page]
Where the Sidewalk Ends (Seed, Dec. 6, 2006) describes experiments in Portland (OR) and elsewhere to have streets without curbs, fewer street signs and controls. Experts say they work through a variant of social capital, forcing drivers to make eye contact with each other and pedestrians, judge where pedestrians and other cars are headed, and decide among themselves when it is safe to proceed.
Cities Compete In Hipness Battle To Attract Young (NYT, 11/25/06, cover story, by Shaila Dewan) mentions social capital as one of the dimensions in which cities are using to attract young residents. [We differ with the author of the story that social capital indices need be *nebulous* as our work on the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey has shown.]
This Halloween, Superheroes Will Head to the Mall (NYT, 10/29/06, Julie Bick) citing Saguaro's own Thomas Sander on the corrosive effects of mall trick-or-treating.
Will Work For Friends (NYT, 10/19/06, Kristina Shevory, p. D1) on work co-ops arising across the country where neighbors take turn fixing up each others' houses and yards.
Center Square - 101 who can connect the dots (Philadelphia Inquirer, Chris Satullo, 10/15/06) describing Leadership Philadelphia's Connector Project to identify the key connectors in Philadelphia and traits they had in common.
Poverty: The New Search for Solutions --- New Intervention: Novel Police Tactic Puts Drug Markets Out of Business --- Confronted by the Evidence, Dealers in High Point, N.C., Succumb to Pressure --- Some Dubbed It Hug-a-Thug (WSJ, 9/27/06, Mark Schoofs, p. A1) highlights a drug-fighting strategy that incorporates social capital. In High Point, NC (and elsewhere) police developed relationships with neighborhood influencers and friends and family of drug dealers. Law enforcement when they were prepared to arrest drug dealers, gave them a second chance while using these influencers to put indirect pressure on drug dealers to cease their activities. The approach is based on the work of former KSG researcher, David Kennedy. [The "Overt Drug Market Strategy" as it is called was named one of the 18 finalists for the 2007 Innovations in American Government Award.]
"Good fences, good neighbors? This is Minnesota. We're supposed to be nice and friendly. Maybe that's why there's only been one gated community here. Until now." St. Paul Pioneer Press (6/14/2006, by Bob Shaw) on evidence of an increase in the number of gated communities in Minnesota, long immune to this national trend.
Mighty Neighborly: Social Theory Comes To Life As Neighbors Fight Crime (Boston Globe, 6/13/06, p. B, by Adrienne P. Samuel's) highlights the revitalization of community groups in Boston neighborhoods to build social capital.
[return to top of the page]
An Old Dice Game Catches On Again, Pushed by P&G --- In Bunco, It Sees a Way To Pitch Heartburn Drug; Living the Joanne Lifestyle (WSJ, 1/30/07, Ellen Byron) about the reported rise of suburban women playing bunco, a game with attached socializing.
Now There's Proof. TV Is Bad (Business Week, 11/20/06, p. 14, Peter Coy) reports on an economics paper by Benjamin Olken on Indonesian social capital, showing that villages that by virtue of their physical location had worse television reception had higher levels of social capital (involvement in various groups).
Neil Pierce's column "Houston's Engaging 'Flower Man' and the 'Shifting Sands' Neighborhoods" (4/2/06) highlights the revitalization of Houston's downtrodden Third Ward using the arts.
RAND issued a study in February, 2005 called Gifts of the Muse: Re framing the Debate About the Benefits of the Arts that discusses social capital in the arts.
Seattle's Climate Protection Initiative, a Finalist for the 2007 Innovations in American Government Awards, has taken various steps to increase citizen participation, improve the environment and build social capital. Notably, the Department of Neighborhoods has launched a Neighborhood Climate Protection Matching Fund to catalyze locally-based climate protection projects such as local bio diesel cooperatives, tool- and car-sharing programs, anti-idling campaigns and community energy conservation actions.
Pushing the Motherhood Cause (Wash. Post, 5/12/07, Donna St. George)
[return to top of the page]
Poverty: The New Search for Solutions --- The Matchmaker: How a U.S. Official Promotes Marriage To Help Poor Kids --- To Encourage Couples to Wed, Wade Horn Plans to Spend $500 Million in Five Years --- Mr. Cobb Starts a Family
(WSJ, 11/20/06, p. A1, Laura Meckler). [Seventh in a series on solutions to poverty.]
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University in Sept. 2006 launched Family Day: A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children. See USA Today article (9/25/06) on this topic here.
In a sure sign of the depths of our social capital mire, a business, FriendsForFamilies, citing that it is SO difficult to find other like-minded families today, has sprung charging members roughly $20 a year to be connected with other like-minded families. Whatever happened to trying to connect with other families through schools, or volunteering, or sports groups, or the arts, or houses of worship? And what ever happened to connecting across our differences?
Katherine Boo's "Swamp Nurse" (New Yorker, Feb. 2, 2006) is a beautifully written, sad tale about a nurse in Louisiana’s Nurse-Family partnership that visits poor young mothers to train them in how to strengthen their social bonds (social capital) with their babies. Katherine Boo had an earlier New Yorker piece in 2003 (The Marriage Cure) that discussed a program that advocated marriage as a road out of poverty. This program also highlighted in Program Seeks to Fight Poverty by Building Family Ties (NYT, 7/20/06) which discusses how program is also teaching relationship-building and -maintaining skills to Americans in poverty. Click here for a 6/06 interview with Katherine Boo.
Bringing Back The Dinner Ritual outlines the evidence for the importance of family dinners. (10/02/05 by Ruben Navarrette, Jr.).
A New York Times article entitled The Economic Unit Called Supermom by Jennifer Steinhauer (5/8/05, Week in Review section, p. 14) discuses how to value the economic productivity of housewives and mothers and discusses their social capital.
Benefits of the Dinner Table Ritual by Laurie Tarkan (NYT, 5/3/05, Health and Fitness Section) discussing the benefits of family dinners. Mentioned is a study in The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine showing how regular family meals were associated with less use of drugs, alcohol and smoking and better grades of teenagers. Another study mentioned, conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found similar results: teens involved in more frequent family dinners smoked less, drunk alcohol less, took drugs less often and were less likely to get into sexual relationships at younger ages.
[return to top of the page]
Capitalism on the kibbutz ; Many Israeli collectives shunning system of financial equality(Boston Globe, 2/26/07, p. A1, Matthew Kaiman)
Knowing The Enemy (New Yorker, 12/18/06 by George Packer) discusses the anthropology of insurgency. Social scientist David Kilcullen concludes that radical separatist movements have less to do with religion than with social bonds, a conclusion reached after comparing East Asian counterinsurgency efforts. "Although radical ideas prepare the way for disaffected young men to become violent jihadists, the reasons they convert, Kilcullen said, are more mundane and familiar: family, friends, associates."
Thomas Friedman's column "Ten Months or Ten Years" (NYT, 11/29/06) discusses the low levels of social capital in Iraq prior to the war and even lower levels after the war in his analysis of their descent to civil war.
The Young Foundation issued a Jan. 2006 report Porcupines in Winter: the pleasures and pains of living together in modern Britain. "Urban riots and rural gentrification; speed dating and isolated pensioners; 'The Office' and 'Neighbours from Hell'; road rage and madrasas; grandparents providing childcare and children looking after other children; mentors and bloggers." Porcupines in Winter surveys the social state of the U.K and likens British to " ' porcupines in winter', huddling together for warmth, then pulling apart when their quills pricked each other, and constantly striving for the right balance between being together and apart." Guardian extract available here.
OECD 2001 conference on Human and Social Capital that led to a book “The Well-Being of Nations: The Role of Human and Social Capital. OECD’s “Social Capital: The Challenge of International Measurement” conference (Sept. 25-27, 2002: London). The British are one of the most advanced governments in focusing on social capital. The relevant British government website is at: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/socialcapital/
[return to top of the page]
General interest/other links
The Gulf Coast Community Foundation (in Venice, FL) has kicked off a $500,000 a year civility campaign. Read this Sarasota-Herald Tribune article Good Manners Campaign kicked off with $500,000 (10/4/07) or see this video. GCCF website here.
BBC story that people are walking 10% faster than early 1990s with rankings of various cities worldwide. (5/3/07)
February 12-18 is Random Acts of Kindness Week. Read here for ideas.
Say Everything (New York Magazine, 2/12/07) describes the uninhibited nature of the younger generation, willing to reveal almost anything about themselves on the web, and what it says about friendships and expectations of privacy.
Improving Your Social Life One Gadget at a Time (Utne Reader, Feb. 1, 2007) highlights in a low-social-capital environment ways to use technology to give colleagues and others the impression that you have a lot of friends.
There is an interesting talk by Bruce Sievers called A Tale of Three Cities (2006) about the rise of the civil sector (non-profits) and their role in accomplishing important social goals.
There have been various news reports stemming from Bethany Peters and Edward Stringham's paper using GSS data called "No Booze? You May Lose: Why Drinkers Earn More Money Than Nondrinkers" and indicating that the mechanism was increased social capital.
The Joy of Giving (Economist, 10/12/06) describes neuroceconomics research that shows that altruism releases oxytocin, the same substance associated with trust and many of our most emotionally intense activities:, child birthing, sexual intimacy, etc.
Leadership Philadelphia launched the Philadelphia Connector project described in Help Wanted: Philly's best 'connectors' (Philadelphia Daily News, 1/27/06).
Vanessa Gregory's article "The Fleeting Relationship" describes a recent collection of essays called ''Together Alone: Personal Relationships in Public Places'' by sociologists Calvin Morrill and David Snow of the University of California, Irvine, and Cindy White, a professor of communication at the University of Colorado. The essays stress the importance of fleeting interactions in public spaces, like bars and gyms and how Americans look for transitory relationships (like dancing at a singles event with the intent of going home alone) or anchored relationships (like the common faces in the stand at a Little League game). (12/13/05,New York Times Sunday Magazine).
An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal described the efforts of Miner County, SD (spurred by an investment of the Northwest Area Foundation) to build, among other things, more local social capital. See “In Bid to Hang On, Miner County, SD Downsizes Dreams” (WSJ, 3/25/05, p. A1).
The February 18, 2005 issue of Business Week had an article called “Extreme Commuting; More workers are willing to travel three hours a day. But what is the long-term cost?” by Michelle Conlin on p. 80 detailing how the costs of ever more frequent long commutes to work.
Dean E. Murphy, “Queens Library Moves Past ‘Shh’ (and Books)”, New York Times, p. A1, 3/7/2001. [article describes how one of the busiest libraries in the countries opens their library up to hundreds of groups a month, from individuals learning merengue or ESL to “open mike night” where wanna-be comedians or singers can try their hand, jewelry making for teenagers to staying fit for seniors. Gary Strong believes in the importance of getting individuals in the door to the library and using the foot traffic to boost book circulation. From our perspective, it is interesting how much social capital building all these smaller groups are doing.]
“New Spin On Neighborliness; Bellevue Program Helps Businesses, Residents Match Need With Supply” By Brad Wong (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 4/19/03, p. B3) “Recovering, The Lesson; You Aren't Just Born With Resilience; You Learn It” by Evelyn Porreca Vuko (Washington Post, November 26, 2002, p. C10) “Keeping Our Distance; Bad News for the Small-World Crowd: More Than 6 Degrees Separate Us” by Linton Weeks (Washington Post, 2/12/02, p. C1)[casts doubt on reality of 6 degrees of separation research]
Arlington, TX had a social capital coordinator/mayoral assistant. (Reported in Ft. Worth Star Telegram, 5/5/05, p.1). Prosthetic and negative SK: signs of the times
1) A firm in Germany (Erento) now lets you hire participants for a demonstration for money. See this article.
2) “Sad, Lonely? For a Good Time, Call Vivienne” (NYT 2/24/05) describes a new avatar, a virtual girlfriend named Vivienne, made by Artificial Life in Hong Kong that gives the user the impression that he has a dutiful real G-rated girlfriend who presents all of the sweetness and none of the difficulty of real relationships. Users can “buy” her virtual chocolates, flowers (paid for in minutes of cellphone use). She can even be married in a virtual ceremony.
3) there are now several “rent-a-friend” services for those who don’t have enough actual friends. See the designs for a 'rent-a-friend' brochure (which provided fake friends for funerals or social occasions).
See: http://www.ilovebacon.com/061103/j.shtml or: http://www2.bc.edu/~driscokg/ (inactive link on student page) or those without close friends could type in their first and last name into this web address:
http://yourfirstname.yourlastname.youaremyfriend.com/and be greeted by assurances accompanied by lofty music that they have a friend. and www.pinkslipcards.com offered a chance to get even with bosses who fired you. On the other hand, here is a social-capital building approach to layoffs. There is an interesting site of David Crowley in Woburn, MA who has focused on trying to increase social capital in his town. He has now expanded from Woburn into Dorchester, MA as well. His website can be found at: www.socialcapitalinc.org/ Baton Rouge's "We are Baton Rouge" and "Forum 35" had a Two By Tuesday to try to get people to meet with someone of a different race, class, etc. regularly during 2002. Program was announced by Rene Greer, chairperson of We Are BR.
Read about the social capital friendly 'pub crawl' in Petaluma in Northern California.
Reversal of Fortune (Mother Jones, March/April 2007, Bill McKibben) and additional information on life satisfaction/happiness here.
The Not-So-Dismal Science (Slate, 12/11/06) discusses how to measure happiness.
The Pursuit of Happiness: Six Experts Tell What They've Done to Achieve It (WSJ, 12/6/06, p. D1, Jonathan Clements). Among the advice given is: lowering commuting time (Andrew Oswald) and seeing friends more (Robert Frank and Richard Easterlin).
An interesting review of two recent books on happiness in a Feb. 27, 2006 New Yorker article called Pursuing Happiness. [The books are: Darrin McMahon's Happiness: A History and Jonathan Haidt's The Happiness Hypothesis. Also another interesting recent book on this topic is Dan Gilbert's Stumbling on Happiness.] Good interview with Dan Gilbert in NYT "The Smiling Professor" here and Dan Gilbert TED video "Why Are We Happy?" here.
Descriptions of Bhutan's new Gross National Happiness measure ("A New Measure of Well-Being From a Happy Little Kingdom", NYT 10/4/05) and a NYT editorial about why this may be promising idea, called "Net National Happiness" (10/6/05). [The 10/4/05 also describes how Britain is developing an Index of Well-Being and Canada is in consultation with leading social scientists and economists to develop a similar measure as is Australia and New Zealand.]
See also April 2007 International Conference "Is happiness measurable and what do those measures mean for policies" in Rome (co-sponsored by OECD) and June 2007 Siena conference on Policies for Happiness.
A long piece on Barack Obama's political future called 'Great Expectations' appeared in the American Prospect (2/5/06). See more on Barack and 2008 here.