Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam expressed his fears of societal collapse in the U. S. in his study entitled “Bowling Alone.” Putnam “charted the decline of American communal participation through shrinking bowling league membership.” (1) Eric Klinenberg in his book How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life, includes public schools, public housing, private apartment buildings, coffee shops, sidewalks, pocket parks, churches, murals, public pools and yes, bowling alleys among the types of institutional infrastructure where civic life can be revitalized. Compassion or healthy responses among people in a society’s institutional infrastructure has been called “social capital.” Without social capital to invest our species will fail in creating a sustainable human community.
Eric Klinenberg defines social infrastructure as “the physical conditions that determine whether social capital develops, whether, that is, human connection and relationships are fostered.” (1) With all due respect to Mr. Klinenberg our American society is in the process of learning that human connection and relationships are not enough to deal with the problems facing our community; those connections and relationships must be healthy and “conscious.” To learn what the distinction is between Klinenberg’s conventional “social capital” and the much more profound definition of the behavior of a truly mindful American citizen would be, click on the link below.
Insight # 50: All infrastructure is social.
- Basic Assumptions in The ABCs of Simple Reality in print and on this blog, by Roy Charles Henry.
- Buttigieg, Pete. “Public Space.” The New York Times Book Review. September 16, 2018, page 19.