Magazine
Latest Issue

Who killed civic America?

Why was the generation born in the 1920s and 1930s the last of the joiners?

By Robert Putnam   March 1996

For the last year or so I have been wrestling with a difficult mystery. It concerns the strange disappearance of social capital and civic engagement in the US. By “social capital” I mean features of social life-networks, norms, and trust-that enable participants to act together more effectively to pursue shared objectives.

Although I am not yet sure that I have solved the mystery, I have assembled evidence which clarifies what happened. An important clue involves differences among generations. Americans who came of age during the Depression and the second world war have been far more deeply engaged in the life…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to letters@prospect-magazine.co.uk

More From Prospect