Ghost of Midnight

… about neighbors, community and Front Porch Forum

Social Capital: Good or Bad?

Posted on Monday, February 12, 2007 by 2 comments

Thanks to Kevin Harris for writing about : Diverse Communities: The Problem with Social Capital, by Barbara Arneil, published last year. I look forward to reading this book. It seems that the author takes Putnam’s Bowling Alone to task around two points:

1. The “ideal” past of strong community outlined in Bowling Alone is another way of documenting the privilege of the established class/majority. That is, what about minorities?

2. Declining social capital may not be a bad thing.

I accept the first point as reasonable on its face, but the second is harder for me to swallow. Time to read the book, I guess!

Our experience with Front Porch Forum seems to show that many people long for greater connection with those around them and lament the decline of social capital in their lives. Many join one of our neighborhood forums seeking that connection. Our testimonials, media and stories pages are full of small examples.

Posted in: Community Building, Front Porch Forum, Media, Stories


  1. I agree with your disagreement with #2!!! We here at Social Capital Inc. have also found many people want more social capital (though they are more likely to simply call it “community”).

    I do think a careful read of Bowling Alone shows that Putnam is not by any means promoting a return to the 1950s communities and all the problems with them. More how do we build social capital in today’s context. That is certainly our take at SCI.

  2. Michael says:

    I just took a fresh look at your site, David. Wow! Lots going on. Congratulations.

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