Friday, April 11, 2008

Thinking about Social Capital and getting a head-ache

Possible paper topics for class on social capital by Robert Putnam;

  • Which interpretation of the 1950s do you find more persuasive— Ehrenhalt or “Pleasantville”? Could one “edit” the 1950s to eliminate the “bad parts” and keep the “good parts”? Which are the good parts and which the bad parts?
  • In what ways does the concept of social capital illuminate or obscure? Where is the frontier in social capital theory?
  • Does the Progressive Era constitute an attractive and appropriate inspiration for our own times or not? Was it about social capital or social control?
  • What is the “social capital” diagnosis of America’s urban problems? How persuasive is it?
  • How (if at all) are social capital and education related?
  • Have we made our places, or have our places made us? How? What can we do about it?
  • Is the younger generation today really any different from young people always? If so, how and why?
  • Is the workplace part of the problem or part of the solution?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of religiously based social capital?
  • Is “virtual community” really community? Will the Internet make the problem of social capital better or worse?
  • How do immigration and ethnic diversity affect social capital? How are bridging and bonding social capital related? If there is a policy problem here, what can we do about it?
  • Is restoring social capital necessary, sufficient, or irrelevant for making American democracy work better? If it is necessary or sufficient, how do we do it?

1 comment:

Jonathan Werve said...

Be sure to ask Mr. Putnam why he's so dismissive of churches as creators of social capitol (his Bowling Alone regressions won't work without that rather important tweak). I've never been able to get a satisfactory answer to that. But Putnam's a very smart man -- should be a great class.

Also, thanks for linking to the Global Integrity Commons.