Study Guide

Bowling Alone - Section 4: Chapter 22, The Dark Side of Social Capital Summary & Analysis

Robert D. Putnam
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Section 4: Chapter 22, The Dark Side of Social Capital Summary and Analysis

Social capital isn't all positive, however. Putnam asks whether social capital is in conflict with liberty and equality. The classic argument has been that community ties restrict citizens' freedom and encourages intolerance. America in the 1950s had high social capital in many places, but many argue that it also created divisions and conformity. America has become more tolerant over the last half century, which happened at the same time that social capital and connectedness were declining.

Putnam argues that social joiners and activists are more tolerant of difference and dissent. Religious intolerance may be an exception to this, but it holds true for most others. Citizens of high social capital states are also more tolerant overall. Putnam suggests that both changes in social engagement and tolerance may...

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