Social Capital in the News

** LINKS TO THIS INFORMATION IS PROVIDED AS A COURTESY, HOWEVER, AS TIME PASSES SOME ORGANIZATIONS CHANGE THEIR WEBSITE NAMES, AND ARTICLES ARE MOVED. WE ARE THE PROCESS OF UPDATING THIS WEBSITE, THEREFORE MANY OF THE LINKS YOU WILL FIND ON THESE PAGES ARE OUT OF DATE. **

(for newer articles, please visit Tom Sander's Social Capital Blog)

This page is very long. An index of this page is currently being worked on and will be posted shortly....


The following is a list of interesting articles that relate to social capital (even though many of these articles don’t use that term). The articles discuss what’s been happening to our trust or civic engagement, how social connections are important in different domains, why we cooperate and trust one another, etc.

IN THE NEWS RIGHT NOW

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.


Learn More


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)

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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.

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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.

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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]

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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.


Workplace/Business

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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.


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Faith-based

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 [2004] (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).

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Technology

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.

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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.

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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.]

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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.

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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)

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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
(WSJ, 12/8/05).

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.]

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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).

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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)

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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.

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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.

Altruism/volunteering/voluntary associations

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.

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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.

Inequality

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.

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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)

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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)

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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.

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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).


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Government/Politics/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]

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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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).

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“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]

Medicine/Health/Science

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[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.

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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.

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"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)

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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.

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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 [2000]. 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/


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Neighborhoods/Crime

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.


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The arts/Leisure

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.


Environment

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.

The Family

Pushing the Motherhood Cause (Wash. Post, 5/12/07, Donna St. George)

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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.

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International

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/

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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]

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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.


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Happiness/Well-Being

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.

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Saguaro Participants

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.



The Saguaro Seminar: Civic Engagement in America - Harvard Kennedy School of Government
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