Democracies in Flux

Democracies in Flux : The Evolution of Social Capital in Contemporary Society

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The recent, highly sucessful publication of Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community by Robert Putnam, has attracted new attention to the subject of civil society. While markets and democracies arise in formerly Communist states, the established liberal democracies of Western Europe, North America, and East Asia grow increasingly dissatisfied with the institutions of representative democracy. Inasmuch as a democracy draws its strength from the involvement of its citizens in public life, the decline of civic participation, Putnam asserts, reflects changes in society. Putnam and his contributors investigate the mechanisms of social transformation by employing the concept of social capital, which loosely describes the extent and variety of an individual's social relations. Democracies in Flux delineates the properties of social capital by analysing its behaviour in several economically advanced democracies. While all participate in a global economy, they differ as societies in terms of historical experience, economic organisation, and democratic structure. A central concern of the project is to understand how societies change, and what implications these changes have for more

Product details

  • Hardback | 528 pages
  • 161.5 x 241.8 x 40.6mm | 907.2g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • numerous figures and tables
  • 0195150899
  • 9780195150896

Review quote

"Putnam's thesis, about the virtue of connectiveness, gains here much additional depth. We see it in a comparative, cross-cultural perspective, with each study illuminating all others. A masterpiece of social science." -- Amitai Etzioni, author of The New Golden Rule"A grand tour of our times--elegant, exciting and unsettling. Democracies in Flux maps the vitality of civil society in eight industrial nations. Their experiences--sometimes similar, often entirely different--add up to a vivid report on the health of democracy in a global era." -- James Morone, author of The Democratic Wish and Hellfire Nationshow more

About Robert D. Putnam

The editor of this volume, Robert D. Putnam, is Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University. He is the founder of the Saguaro Seminar: Civic Engagement in America, a program that has brought together leading practitioners and thinkers for a multi-year discussion to look for ways to develop civic life. The author has received renown and media attention for his previous work on civil society. Putnam's work on the relationship between civil society and democracy led not only to consultations with former President Clinton and President Bush, and the subsequently heavy influence he exercised on two of Clinton's State of the Union addresses, but also to a profile in People magazine. His work has sparked forums among academics for debates on civic engagement. He regularly speaks to audiences of 3 to 500 people about his more

Table of contents

1. Introduction ; 2. Great Britain: The Role of Government and the Distribution of Social Capital ; 3. The United States: Bridging the Privileged and the Marginalised ; 4. United States ; 5. France: The Privatisation of Social Capital ; 6. Germany ; 7. Spain: 'Civil War' to 'Civil Society' ; 8. Sweden: Social Capital in the Social Democratic State ; 9. Australia ; 10. Japan: Social Capital Goes with Particularistic Social Relationsshow more

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35 ratings
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