Monday, August 20, 2012

Negative Vs. Positive Social Capital

I got my hands on Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam today.  I'm only on the first chapter but already I'm pretty intrigued.  In his book, Putnam addresses the decline of community in America, and in the first chapter he is discussing the issue of social capital. 

He describes social capital as the degree to which we as a society and as individuals benefit from social connectivity. 

One of the things I'm already struck by is his suggestion that not all social connectivity is positive.  In fact, some social ties can be exclusive or anti-social in their ultimate purpose, and therefore destructive.  Of course, extreme examples would organizations like the KKK.  But, in terms of exclusivity, I think organizations like the Church or even an elementary school PTA can do harm where they mean to do good. 

What do you think?  How has exclusivity affected your own feelings of purpose, connectedness, and/or isolation in your own community?

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