Concepts, Assessments, Subversions
Edited By Matteo Stocchetti
Bowling Online: A Critical View of Social Capital and Virtual Communities
Melissa Harness & Sultana A. Shabazz
Trust is the expectation that arises within a community of regular, honest, and cooperative behavior, based on commonly shared norms; on the part of other members of that community… Social capital is a capability that arises from the prevalence of trust in a society or in certain parts of it. It can be embodied in the smallest and most basic social group, the family, as well as the largest of all groups, the nation, and in all the other groups in between.
(Francis Fukuyama: 1996)
In 1995, Robert Putnam introduced his theory of social capital in Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital. Furthering his research, in 2000, he published Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, in which Putnam attempts to explain how and why Americans’ social capital has consistently declined in the wake of the 1960’s era. Putnam’s uses his main argument to demonstrate how the United States, historically recognized as a leader in democratic civic engagement, is in danger of reaching critically deficient levels of social capital, thus leading to a society that no longer trusts or knows its own members. This chapter seeks out a modern relevance for Putnam’s concept of social capital in a nation increasingly defined by hyper-realism and virtual lives. In engaging some of the critiques of this particular iteration of social capital, we engage with hidden discourses of marginality and historical contextuality, the effect of dis-association...
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