Robert D. Putnam

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Robert D. Putnam is a sociologist credited with coining the term "social capital" to describe the elements that contribute to social cohesion.[1] He is "the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in American politics, international relations, comparative politics, and public policy. He is the founder of The Saguaro Seminar: Civic Engagement in America, a program that has brought together leading practitioners and thinkers for a multi-year discussion to develop broad-scale, actionable ideas to fortify our nation's civic connectedness. In 2001-2002 he served as President of the American Political Science Association. He has written numerous books including the best-selling Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (2000), a collective volume Democracies in Flux: The Evolution of Social Capital in Contemporary Society (2002), and more recently Better Together: Restoring the American Community, a study of promising new forms of social connectedness. He is now conducting research on the challenges of building community in an increasingly diverse society. [2]

"In 'A Better Society In A Time Of War' (Op-ed by Robert Putnam in New York Times, 10/19/01, p. A19), Putnam notes that the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, like the attacks of September 11, 2001, evoked feelings of pride and citizenshp in every American, Putnam says Americans can find inspiration in the institutions and practices Americans created 60 years ago, and observed that the sense of community was created in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor through civic involvement, with the help of government. Putnam asserts htat effort must be made now to ensure that resurgence of community involvement continues, through blood donations, contributions to victims and their families, and attendance at places of worship, and further asserts that government should urge country's religious congregations to plan interfaith services and should expand national service programs." ( [3]

"Robert D Putnam (1940- ) has made some influential friends in recent years. He has been the focus of seminars hosted by Bill Clinton at Camp David and Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street. His ideas have popped up in speeches by George W. Bush and William Hague. The decline of civil engagement in the USA over the last 30 years or so, which he charted in Bowling Alone (2000), has worried a number of politicians and commentators. Robert Putnam's marshalling of evidence with regard to this shift; his identification of the causes; and his argument that within the new circumstances new institutions of civic engagement can arise has made him the centre of attention. However, his contribution to thinking about the nature of civic society - and its relation to political life is based on more than his analysis of US experience." [4]

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  1. Advisory Board, Thomas C. Wales Foundation, accessed August 5, 2009.
  2. The Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science, Uppsala University, accessed September 20, 2007.

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