Robert Putnam

Recent Articles

The Strange Disappearance of Civic America

A more extended version of this article, complete with references, appears in the Winter 1995 issue of PS , a publication of the American Political Science Association. This work, originally delivered as the inaugural Ithiel de Sola Pool Lecture, builds on Putnam's earlier articles, "Bowling Alone: America's Declining Social Capital," Journal of Democracy (January 1995) and "The Prosperous Community," TAP (Spring 1993). For American Prospect subscriptions and bulk reprints, call 1-800-872-0162. F or the last year or so, I have been wrestling with a difficult mystery. It is a classic brainteaser, with a corpus delicti, a crime scene strewn with clues, and many potential suspects. As in all good detective stories, however, some plausible miscreants turn out to have impeccable alibis, and some important clues hint at portentous developments that occurred before the curtain rose. The mystery concerns the strange disappearance of social capital and civic engagement in America. By "social...