Gresham's Law

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The 10 Factors Destroying our Social Health

Through better understanding, we can reverse them
Monday, February 17, 2014, 11:58 AM

Executive Summary

  • The erosion of community is due to many factors
  • Understanding these factors enables us to begin combating them
  • The 10 reasons American social capital is declining
  • What it will take for a revival in social cooperation

If you have not yet read The Erosion of Community, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

In Part 1, we surveyed a number of explanations for the erosion of community, starting with the landmark 1950 book, The Lonely Crowd, and found that no one theory adequately accounted for the decline of social capital in America.

Here are ten other factors that could be factors in this long-term erosion:

1.  The explosion of choices in the mass media (mentioned by Robert Putnam and Kevin K.) now offers endless opportunities to form a protective bubble around oneself: if you only want to hear views that confirm your existing biases, it's now very easy to do so, and you don’t even need to go out into the real world to do so.

Since confirming our own beliefs is safe and comfortable, our collective reaction may be to avoid people who might disagree with us. Eventually, such isolated individuals “socializing” in self-selected groups online lose the ability to function productively in diverse groups of real people in a real community.

2.  The mobility demanded of labor.  The mobility of labor in America--that workers can pull up stakes and move to better job opportunities--is often lauded as the key to the U.S. economy's flexibility and resilience. This is no doubt true, but that mobility eviscerates community: if you move every 2-3 years (as required of military personnel, Corporate America managers and many others), what's the motivation for joining and contributing to local groups?... » Read more