Robert Putnam

We successfully weathered that storm once, and we can do it again

Perhaps the single most important lesson we can hope to gain from this analysis is that in the past America has experienced a storm of unbridled individualism in our culture, our communities, our politics, and our economics, and it produced then, as it has today, a national situation that few Americans found appealing. But we […]

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A more “we” society

During these decades Americans became – perhaps more than ever before – focused on what we could accomplish together. And this sense of shared responsibility and collective progress was not simply some victory lap after overcoming the Great Depression and defeating the Axis powers, as many have suggested. As this chart makes clear, and as

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A troubling similarity

The United States in the 1870s, 1880s, and 1890s was startlingly similar to today. Inequality, political polarization, social dislocation, and cultural narcissism prevailed – all accompanied, as they are now, by unprecedented technological advances, prosperity, and material well-being. The parallels are indeed so striking that the foregoing description could have been written virtually word-for-word about

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An increasingly cutthroat social and economic contest

Some Americans have reacted to these many forms of dislocation by turning on their perceived adversaries in an increasingly cutthroat social and economic contest. Racism and gender discrimination persist and are even intensified. Indeed, the progress toward racial equality achieved in an earlier era has in many ways reversed. White supremacist  violence is on the

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Prosperity at a cost

Were Alexis de Tocqueville to travel to America once again  – further on in our national story – what might he find? Would America fulfill its promise of balancing individual liberty with the common good? Would equality of opportunity be realized, and indeed produce prosperity for all? And would shared cultural values, respect for democratic

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