THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY has already seen a stream of premature epitaphs written for many long-standing social phenomena, not least social capital – often referred to as the ‘glue’ that binds us together. I eagerly jumped on that bandwagon at the turn of the century, worried about signs of weakening social connectedness. At that time, Harvard Professor Robert Putnam, in his bestseller Bowling Alone (Simon & Schuster, 2001), persuasively traced the consequences of weakening social and civic ties in middle America. I haven’t really gotten off that wagon, although I’ve never felt completely comfortable with some of my fellow traveller’s laments about the state of the world and declining stocks of social capital.
My discomfort with this received wisdom shared by these fellow travellers is a product of the time I spend outside work hours in grassroots football, where social capital seems to be flourishing.
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