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Robert D. Putnam quotes Showing 1-26 of 26

“Social capital may turn out to be a prerequisite for, rather than a consequence of, effective computer-mediated communication.”
Robert D. Putnam, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community
“We all know that the way to get something done is to give it to a busy person.”
Robert D. Putnam , Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community
“Poor kids, through no fault of their own, are less prepared by their families, their schools, and their communities to develop their God-given talents as fully as rich kids. For economic productivity and growth, our country needs as much talent as we can find, and we certainly can’t afford to waste it. The opportunity gap imposes on all of us both real costs and what economists term “opportunity costs.”
Robert D. Putnam, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis
“People divorced from community, occupation, and association are first and foremost among the supporters of extremism.”
Robert D. Putnam, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community
“Financial capital - the wherewithal for mass marketing - has steadily replaced social capital - that is, grassroots citizen networks - as the coin of the realm.”
Robert D. Putnam, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community
“Social dislocation can easily breed a reactionary form of nostalgia.”
Robert D. Putnam, Bowling Alone
“Parental wealth is especially important for social mobility, because it can provide informal insurance that allows kids to take more risks in search of more reward.”
Robert D. Putnam, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis
“TV-based politics is to political action as watching ER is to saving someone in distress.”
Robert D. Putnam, Bowling Alone
“Busy people tend to forgo the one activity - TV watching _ that is most lethal to community involvement”
Robert D. Putnam , Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community
“Schools themselves aren't creating the opportunity gap: the gap is already large by the time children enter kindergarten and does not grow as children progress through school. The gaps in cognitive achievement by level of maternal education that we observe at age 18-powerful predictors of who goes to college and who does not - are mostly present at age 6when children enter school. Schooling plays only a minor role in alleviating or creating test score gaps.”
Robert D. Putnam, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis
“If we think of politics as an industry, we might delight in its new "labour-saving efficiency", but if we think of politics as democratic deliberation, to leave people out is to miss the whole point of the exercise.”
Robert D. Putnam, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community
“Upper-class parents enable their kids to form weak ties by exposing them more often to organized activities, professionals, and other adults. Working-class children, on the other hand, are more likely to interact regularly only with kin and neighborhood children, which limits their formation of valuable weak ties.”
Robert D. Putnam, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis
“Many people have a stereotype of what it means to be poor. And it may be somebody they see on the street corner with a sign: “Will work for food.” And what they don’t think about is that person who’s struggling every day. Could be the person who waited on us, took our bank deposit, works in retail, but who is barely above the poverty line.”
Robert D. Putnam, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis
“Slavery was, in fact, a social system designed to destroy social capital among slaves and between slaves and freemen.”
Robert D. Putnam, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community
“Generally speaking, lower-tier grandparents mostly donate time, replacing parental resources, whereas upper-tier grandparents mostly donate money, supplementing parental resources”
Robert D. Putnam
“Contemporary discussion of inequality in America often conflates two related but distinct issues: • Equality of income and wealth. The distribution of income and wealth among adults in today’s America—framed by the Occupy movement as the 1 percent versus the 99 percent—has generated much partisan debate during the past several years. Historically, however, most Americans have not been greatly worried about that sort of inequality: we tend not to begrudge others their success or care how high the socioeconomic ladder is, assuming that everyone has an equal chance to climb it, given equal merit and energy. • Equality of opportunity and social mobility. The prospects for the next generation—that is, whether young people from different backgrounds are, in fact, getting onto the ladder at about the same place and, given equal merit and energy, are equally likely to scale it—pose an altogether more momentous problem in our national culture. Beginning with the “all men are created equal” premise of our national independence, Americans of all parties have historically been very concerned about this issue.”
Robert D. Putnam, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis
“1. Institutions shape politics. The rules and standard operating procedures that make up institutions leave their imprint on political outcomes by structuring political behavior. Outcomes are not simply reducible to the billiard-ball interaction of individuals nor to the intersection of broad social forces. Institutions influence outcomes because they shape actors’ identities, power, and strategies. 2. Institutions are shaped by history. Whatever other factors may affect their form, institutions have inertia and “robustness.” They therefore embody historical trajectories and turning points. History matters because it is “path dependent”: what comes first (even if it was in some sense “accidental”) conditions what comes later. Individuals may “choose” their institutions, but they do not choose them under circumstances of their own making, and their choices in turn influence the rules within which their successors choose.”
Robert D. Putnam, Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy
“More plausible suspects in our mystery are the things that students collectively bring with them to school, ranging from(on the positive side of the ledger) academic encouragement at home and private funding for "extras" to (on the negative side) crime, drugs, and disorder. Whom you go to school with matters a lot.”
Robert D. Putnam, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis
“Stressful conditions from outside school are much more likely to intrude into the classroom in high poverty schools. Every one of ten stressors is two to three times more common in high poverty schools-- Student hunger, unstable housing, lack of medical and dental care, caring for family members, immigration issues, community violence and safety issues.”
Robert D. Putnam, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis
“Without succumbing to political nightmares, we might ponder whether the bleak, socially estranged future facing poor kids in America today could have unanticipated political consequences tomorrow. So quite apart from the danger that the opportunity gap poses to American prosperity, it also undermines our democracy and perhaps even our political stability.”
Robert D. Putnam, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis
“In the quarter century between 1979 and 2005, average after-tax income (adjusted for inflation) grew by $900 a year for the bottom fifth of American households, by $8,700 a year for the middle fifth, and by $745,000 a year for the top 1 percent of households.”
Robert D. Putnam, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis
“The bottom line in the political industry is this: Financial capital—the wherewithal for mass marketing—has steadily replaced social capital—that is, grassroots citizen networks—as the coin of the realm.”
Robert D. Putnam, Bowling Alone
“{The Progressives] outlook was activist and optimistic, not fatalist and despondent. The distinctive characteristic of the Progressives was their conviction that social evils would not remedy themselves and that it was foolhardy to wait passively for time's cure. As Herbert Croly put it, they did not believe that the future would take care of itself. Neither should we.”
Robert D. Putnam, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community
“The achievement gap between children from high income and low income families is roughly 30-40% larger among children born in 2001 than among those born 25 years ago. The class gap among students entering kindergarten was two to three times higher than the racial gap.”
Robert D. Putnam
“Big, centralized government, with the proliferation of federal bureaucracies and the expansion of public welfare programs, is sometimes said to have undercut the mediating institutions of civil society, “crowded out” private generosity, and sapped individual initiative. This is a common explanation among conservative commentators, who attribute the reversal from we to I in the 1960s to the welfare state.16 Empirical evidence for “crowding out” is modest, for across states in the US and across countries in the world, the correlation between big government and social solidarity appears to be, if anything, faintly positive, not negative.”
Robert D. Putnam, The Upswing: How We Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again
“the more fundamental problem with the big government explanation is that by most measures (all spending, or spending on the welfare state in real per capita terms, or spending as a fraction of GDP; number of government employees) the size of government lagged behind the I-we-I curve by several decades. Federal government spending and the number of employees rose steadily in tandem with the I-we-I curve from 1900 to 1970 and kept rising until they leveled off after the 1980s.”
Robert D. Putnam, The Upswing: How We Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again


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