Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Too Much Trust

Bowling alone has its perks. Some communities are wound too tightly. Drowning in social capital:

“When people are highly attached to their communities and highly embedded, the context in which that is taking place really matters,” Lee says. “Under normal circumstances, just average day-to-day life, being strongly attached to your community is a good thing. But under crisis conditions, that’s not necessarily the case.”

In this case, the crisis is the Gulf oil spoil. Deep roots hinder the ability to deal with trauma. Even tougher is the need to leave. Refugees from parochial neighborhoods have a hard time adjusting to a new environment without access to a strong network.

I see strong parallels with economic crises in the Rust Belt. Sean Safford studied the problem of too much social capital in Youngstown, Ohio. His research is more concerned with the civic leadership and broader access to that elite circle of power. After reading Safford's work, I'm convinced that Robert Putnam has it backwards. Those who bowl together stay in Buffalo.

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