Monday, August 05, 2013

Rust Belt Landscapes and Memory

Challenging Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone thesis at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Rust Belt revitalization and social capital.

Subject Article: "Crumbling American Dreams."

Other Links: 1. "What The People Had A Hand In: Discussing Leo Hollis’ ‘Cities Are Good for You.’"
2. "Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community."
3. "Bob Putnam touts "the egalitarian ethos and reality of the 1950s". Women, blacks, non-Euro immigrants would disagree."
4. "Farm Aid: Family farmers, good food, a better America."
5. "Lansing native Edward McClelland to do book signing at Barnes & Noble."
6. "English industrial landscapes: divergence, convergence and perceptions of identity."
7. "Pennsylvania Folklore... or is it Fakelore?"
8. "After Trying Suburban Life, Many New Yorkers Leave It to Beaver."
9. "Why the Smartest People in the Midwest All Move To Chicago."
10. "Visions of the Rust Belt Future (Part 2)."

Postscript: Putnam goes overboard romanticizing his pre-Rust Belt hometown in Ohio. That bit of folklore is at the heart of his contribution to social capital theory. It's a brain drain tale, an inaccurate portrayal of the hard times that besieged just about every Rust Belt community. Too much, not too little, social capital stands in the way of revitalization.

1 comment:

Matthew Hall said...

Doesn't the absence of social capital hurt a place? It means that people don't do things that have the effect of benefiting others as well as themselves because they don't have any experience or understandings of how regional cooperation would benefit themselves through an improved labor market, more efficient transportation or energy systems. Are you arguing for a libertarian view in which all interests are truly best represented in an unregulated free market?