A New York Times bestseller and “a passionate, urgent” (The New Yorker) examination of the growing inequality gap from the bestselling author of Bowling Alone: why fewer Americans today have the opportunity for upward mobility.

Central to the very idea of America is the principle that we are a nation of opportunity. But over the last quarter century we have seen a disturbing “opportunity gap” emerge. We Americans have always believed that those who have talent and try hard will succeed, but this central tenet of the American Dream seems no longer true or at the least, much less true than it was.

In Our Kids, Robert Putnam offers a personal and authoritative look at this new American crisis, beginning with the example of his high school class of 1959 in Port Clinton, Ohio. The vast majority of those students went on to lives better than those of their parents. But their children and grandchildren have faced diminishing prospects. Putnam tells the tale of lessening opportunity through poignant life stories of rich, middle class, and poor kids from cities and suburbs across the country, brilliantly blended with the latest social-science research.

“A truly masterful volume” (Financial Times), Our Kids provides a disturbing account of the American dream that is “thoughtful and persuasive” (The Economist). Our Kids offers a rare combination of individual testimony and rigorous evidence: “No one can finish this book and feel complacent about equal opportunity” (The New York Times Book Review).
American Grace is a major achievement, a groundbreaking examination of religion in America.

Unique among nations, America is deeply religious, religiously diverse, and remarkably tolerant. But in recent decades the nation’s religious landscape has been reshaped.

America has experienced three seismic shocks, say Robert Putnam and David Campbell. In the 1960s, religious observance plummeted. Then in the 1970s and 1980s, a conservative reaction produced the rise of evangelicalism and the Religious Right. Since the 1990s, however, young people, turned off by that linkage between faith and conservative politics, have abandoned organized religion. The result has been a growing polarization—the ranks of religious conservatives and secular liberals have swelled, leaving a dwindling group of religious moderates in between. At the same time, personal interfaith ties are strengthening. Interfaith marriage has increased while religious identities have become more fluid. Putnam and Campbell show how this denser web of personal ties brings surprising interfaith tolerance, notwithstanding the so-called culture wars.

American Grace is based on two of the most comprehensive surveys ever conducted on religion and public life in America. It includes a dozen in-depth profiles of diverse congregations across the country, which illuminate how the trends described by Putnam and Campbell affect the lives of real Americans.

Nearly every chapter of American Grace contains a surprise about American religious life. Among them:

• Between one-third and one-half of all American marriages are interfaith;

• Roughly one-third of Americans have switched religions at some point in their lives;

• Young people are more opposed to abortion than their parents but more accepting of gay marriage;

• Even fervently religious Americans believe that people of other faiths can go to heaven;

• Religious Americans are better neighbors than secular Americans: more generous with their time and treasure even for secular causes—but the explanation has less to do with faith than with their communities of faith;

• Jews are the most broadly popular religious group in America today.


American Grace promises to be the most important book in decades about American religious life and an essential book for understanding our nation today.
An eminent political scientist’s brilliant analysis of economic, social, and political trends over the past century demonstrating how we have gone from an individualistic “I” society to a more communitarian “We” society and then back again—and how we can learn from that experience to turn the corner towards a stronger, more unified nation, from the author of Bowling Alone and Our Kids.

Deep and accelerating inequality; unprecedented political polarization; vitriolic public discourse; a fraying social fabric; public and private narcissism—Americans today seem to agree on only one thing: This is the worst of times.

But we’ve been here before. During the Gilded Age of the late 1800s, America was highly individualistic, starkly unequal, fiercely polarized, and deeply fragmented, just as it is today. However as the twentieth century opened, America became—slowly, unevenly, but steadily—more egalitarian, more cooperative, more generous; a society more focused on our responsibilities to one another and less focused on our narrower self-interest. Sometime during the 1960s, however, our nation turned another corner, and all of these trends reversed, leaving us in today’s disarray.

In a sweeping overview of more than a century of history, drawing on his inimitable combination of statistical analysis and storytelling, Robert Putnam analyzes a remarkable confluence of trends that brought us from an “I” society to a “We” society and then back again. He draws inspiring lessons for our time from an earlier era, when a dedicated group of reformers righted the ship, putting us on a path to becoming a society once again based on community. Engaging, revelatory, and timely, this is Putnam’s most ambitious work yet, a fitting capstone to a brilliant career.
In his acclaimed bestselling book, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, Robert Putnam described a thirty-year decline in America's social institutions. The book ended with the hope that new forms of social connection might be invented in order to revive our communities.

In Better Together, Putnam and longtime civic activist Lewis Feldstein describe some of the diverse locations and most compelling ways in which civic renewal is taking place today. In response to civic crises and local problems, they say, hardworking, committed people are reweaving the social fabric all across America, often in innovative ways that may turn out to be appropriate for the twenty-first century.

Better Together is a book of stories about people who are building communities to solve specific problems. The examples Putnam and Feldstein describe span the country from big cities such as Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Chicago to the Los Angeles suburbs, small Mississippi and Wisconsin towns, and quiet rural areas. The projects range from the strictly local to that of the men and women of UPS, who cover the nation. Bowling Alone looked at America from a broad and general perspective. Better Together takes us into Catherine Flannery's Roxbury, Massachusetts, living room, a UPS loading dock in Greensboro, North Carolina, a Philadelphia classroom, the Portsmouth, New Hampshire, naval shipyard, and a Bay Area Web site.

We meet activists driven by their visions, each of whom has chosen to succeed by building community: Mexican Americans in the Rio Grande Valley who want paved roads, running water, and decent schools; Harvard University clerical workers searching for respect and improved working conditions; Waupun, Wisconsin, schoolchildren organizing to improve safety at a local railroad crossing; and merchants in Tupelo, Mississippi, joining with farmers to improve their economic status. As the stories in Better Together demonstrate, bringing people together by building on personal relationships remains one of the most effective strategies to enhance America's social health.
In his national bestseller Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam illuminated the decline of social capital in the US. Now, in Democracies in Flux, Putnam brings together a group of leading scholars who broaden his findings as they examine the state of social capital in eight advanced democracies around the world. The book is packed with many intriguing revelations. The contributors note, for instance, that waning participation in unions, churches, and political parties seems to be virtually universal, a troubling discovery as these forms of social capital are especially important for empowering less educated, less affluent portions of the population. Indeed, in general, the researchers found more social grouping among the affluent than among the working classes and they find evidence of a younger generation that is singularly uninterested in politics, distrustful both of politicians and of others, cynical about public affairs, and less inclined to participate in enduring social organizations. Yet social capital appears as strong as ever in Sweden, where 40% of the adult population participate in "study circles"--small groups who meet weekly for educational discussions. Social capital--good will, fellowship, sympathy, and social intercourse--is vitally important both for the health of our communities and for our own physical and psychological well being. Offering a panoramic look at social capital around the world, this book makes an important contribution to our understanding of these phenomena and why they are important in today's world.
It is a notable irony that as democracy replaces other forms of governing throughout the world, citizens of the most established and prosperous democracies (the United States and Canada, Western European nations, and Japan) increasingly report dissatisfaction and frustration with their governments. Here, some of the most influential political scientists at work today examine why this is so in a volume unique in both its publication of original data and its conclusion that low public confidence in democratic leaders and institutions is a function of actual performance, changing expectations, and the role of information.

The culmination of research projects directed by Robert Putnam through the Trilateral Commission and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, these papers present new data that allow more direct comparisons across national borders and more detailed pictures of trends within countries than previously possible. They show that citizen disaffection in the Trilateral democracies is not the result of frayed social fabric, economic insecurity, the end of the Cold War, or public cynicism. Rather, the contributors conclude, the trouble lies with governments and politics themselves. The sources of the problem include governments' diminished capacity to act in an interdependent world and a decline in institutional performance, in combination with new public expectations and uses of information that have altered the criteria by which people judge their governments.


Although the authors diverge in approach, ideological affinity, and interpretation, they adhere to a unified framework and confine themselves to the last quarter of the twentieth century. This focus--together with the wealth of original research results and the uniform strength of the individual chapters--sets the volume above other efforts to address the important and increasingly international question of public dissatisfaction with democratic governance. This book will have obvious appeal for a broad audience of political scientists, politicians, policy wonks, and that still sizable group of politically minded citizens on both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific.

In his national bestseller Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam illuminated the decline of social capital in the US. Now, in Democracies in Flux, Putnam brings together a group of leading scholars who broaden his findings as they examine the state of social capital in eight advanced democracies around the world. The book is packed with many intriguing revelations. The contributors note, for instance, that waning participation in unions, churches, and political parties seems to be virtually universal, a troubling discovery as these forms of social capital are especially important for empowering less educated, less affluent portions of the population. Indeed, in general, the researchers found more social grouping among the affluent than among the working classes and they find evidence of a younger generation that is singularly uninterested in politics, distrustful both of politicians and of others, cynical about public affairs, and less inclined to participate in enduring social organizations. Yet social capital appears as strong as ever in Sweden, where 40% of the adult population participate in "study circles"--small groups who meet weekly for educational discussions. Social capital--good will, fellowship, sympathy, and social intercourse--is vitally important both for the health of our communities and for our own physical and psychological well being. Offering a panoramic look at social capital around the world, this book makes an important contribution to our understanding of these phenomena and why they are important in today's world.
A New York Times bestseller and “a passionate, urgent” (The New Yorker) examination of the growing inequality gap from the bestselling author of Bowling Alone: why fewer Americans today have the opportunity for upward mobility.

Central to the very idea of America is the principle that we are a nation of opportunity. But over the last quarter century we have seen a disturbing “opportunity gap” emerge. We Americans have always believed that those who have talent and try hard will succeed, but this central tenet of the American Dream seems no longer true or at the least, much less true than it was.

In Our Kids, Robert Putnam offers a personal and authoritative look at this new American crisis, beginning with the example of his high school class of 1959 in Port Clinton, Ohio. The vast majority of those students went on to lives better than those of their parents. But their children and grandchildren have faced diminishing prospects. Putnam tells the tale of lessening opportunity through poignant life stories of rich, middle class, and poor kids from cities and suburbs across the country, brilliantly blended with the latest social-science research.

“A truly masterful volume” (Financial Times), Our Kids provides a disturbing account of the American dream that is “thoughtful and persuasive” (The Economist). Our Kids offers a rare combination of individual testimony and rigorous evidence: “No one can finish this book and feel complacent about equal opportunity” (The New York Times Book Review).
An eminent political scientist’s brilliant analysis of economic, social, and political trends over the past century demonstrating how we have gone from an individualistic “I” society to a more communitarian “We” society and then back again—and how we can learn from that experience to turn the corner towards a stronger, more unified nation, from the author of Bowling Alone and Our Kids.

Deep and accelerating inequality; unprecedented political polarization; vitriolic public discourse; a fraying social fabric; public and private narcissism—Americans today seem to agree on only one thing: This is the worst of times.

But we’ve been here before. During the Gilded Age of the late 1800s, America was highly individualistic, starkly unequal, fiercely polarized, and deeply fragmented, just as it is today. However as the twentieth century opened, America became—slowly, unevenly, but steadily—more egalitarian, more cooperative, more generous; a society more focused on our responsibilities to one another and less focused on our narrower self-interest. Sometime during the 1960s, however, our nation turned another corner, and all of these trends reversed, leaving us in today’s disarray.

In a sweeping overview of more than a century of history, drawing on his inimitable combination of statistical analysis and storytelling, Robert Putnam analyzes a remarkable confluence of trends that brought us from an “I” society to a “We” society and then back again. He draws inspiring lessons for our time from an earlier era, when a dedicated group of reformers righted the ship, putting us on a path to becoming a society once again based on community. Engaging, revelatory, and timely, this is Putnam’s most ambitious work yet, a fitting capstone to a brilliant career.
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