American Heritage 100 :: Fall 2006 [/\\] BYU

my student notes and resources from amh 100 at byu. i can make mistakes, so corrections are welcome.

use 'search this blog' above to search through my notes.

as an international student, i don't know much about american heritage either.

Sept 26, 2006: Forum

Robert D. Putnam Bio

"In honor of Constitution Day, Robert D. Putnam, guest lecturer at Tuesday's Forum, Sept. 26, 2006, discussed the necessity of reconstructing the social connections between friends, families, neighbors and society. "full story [summary]

This Forum will be rebroadcast October 8, 2006 at 6:00am on KBYU-TV (too late for the paper)

2 copies of yesterday's forum available at LRC on the 4th floor of the HBLL

Boston Celtics: Manager- Danny Ainge

Today Lets Solve the Mystery:
American institutions have historically enjoyed great esteem among americans.
They're proud of them.

but a survey was done:
"Would you say you can trust the government to do whats right most of the time?"
1960s yes 80%
2000s yes 19%

Not a steady decline. There was a peak, fall 2001 (aftermath sept 11)

We trusted the government more, after sept 11.

Our institutions/constitution hasn't changed over time. So what has cause the change?

Something else has caused the change... The major decline begins the very year I started to vote (so maybe I am the cause of this) (in the 1960s).

Research a few years ago:
botanist study plant growth- take 2 same seeds, plant in 2 pots of soil and water them differently, and see what makes the grow, what makes them shrivel up.

you'd like the same thing for political science, (same formal institutions) and then plant that in different social and economic contexts and environments.

We got it in 1970, the italians constructed a new set of regional governments, (seeds identical) with identical formal institutions.
but some regions where highly advanced, others were poorer, less educated, some places deeply communist, some places deeply catholic.

Some parts of italy governed great, others are corrupt, inefficient. What is the secret ingredient that determines what makes the regional government more or less successful?

Maybe riches,education,religion,political affiliation?

They found that the factor that perfectly correlated: the number of singing groups, reading clubs, choral societies, etc.

The best predictor of successful government: social capital (interconnectedness)

Jargon I want to introduce is the jargon of social capital

physical capital- a tool (like a screwdriver)
human capital- training and education
social capital- features of our community, where people were more connected with each other in productive ways

It is that social networks have value to the people in the networks, (you can get a better job if you have good social networks)

Harvard Business School has calculated the dollar value of your address book (social contacts) and it has more influence over your lifetime success than your education.

Social networks also have powerful affects on bystanders. Sociologists have taught us that the best predictor of low crime rates is how many neighbors know each others first name. Lots of social capital in our neighborhood in Lexington. So our house is being protected by all of the social capital, even though I don't participate in the community (i don't go to picnics, and parties).

The reason that social networks have these mysterious advantages, is what tends to evolve is a generalized reciprocity
(I'll do something nice for you, you do something nice for him, and we pass it on)
What comes around goes around

generalized reciprocity:
"If you don't go to someones funeral they won't go to yours"-Yogi Berra

crime rates are lower, economic growth rates higher, lower teenage pregnancy where social capital is high according to the italian case study.etc.

Back to the mystery:
What are the trends in social capital in Provo in the last 30 years? How do we measure it in Provo? How do we measure it in america?

Its possible we can measure trends in membership numbers of organizations, and the market share.
Of all the parents in american, what % belonged to the PTA, or scouting organizations, or AMA. Or middle-aged guys are members of animal clubs (lions club, etc). Formal organizations.

[he shows a graph of american membership rate]

It increased after the depression, it started to decline in 1960s (1965). AMA (American Medical Association) hit its peak in 1958. Optimists peaked at 1980 declined since then.

Every organization in the study has been around 100 years. Cheers - "A place where everybody knows your name".

But there is no way to figure out if people are going on picnics more. Then I discovered more massive data archives (really exciting), chicago marketing company DDB, in 1975 they've been asking people about lifestyles like

How many times did you go to church? (buy more greeting cards hallmark)
How many times did you go to club meeting?
How many times did you go to dinner parties?
How many times did you go on a picnic?
How many times did you [tax evasion]
How many times did you give someone the finger?
How many times did you go to public meetings?
How many times did you attend a club meeting?

1975 americans went on 5 picnics/year
2005 americans went on 2 picnics/year

America is on a national picnic crisis

Church going is similar with a decline in the 60s. We are lying about going to church on sunday more than our parents are.

Entertaining at homes becomes rarer
1975 14 times/year
2005 7-8 times/year

decline in charity (giving away money), decline in trust.

1960s 2/3 americans believe that others can be trusted
2000s 1/3 americans believe that others can be trusted

but why?
urban sprawl
tv (big part of the story)
women going to work (less hours in their day for community and family activity)

news is good for civic health
but most of the rest of it isn't
"americans watch friends [a tv show] instead of having friends"

A big part of what has happened bad is that we have become more socially isolated.

This is not the first time

100 years ago (1906)
How was social capital doing?
They just went through 30 or 40 years of social capital decline because of immigration, industrial revolution, urbanization
in the past they had done (barn raisings, quilting bees) for social networks

they fixed the problem
they came up with formal organizations (boy scouts, red cross, urban league, rotary club, kiwanis club, lions club)
these were all invented in 1910s

We need to be about the task of connecting that fit the way we live.

2 Different kinds of social capital:
bonding social networks (people just like you)
bridging social networks (people just not like you)

a society with only bonding social capital looks like bosnia, beirut

Bridging social networks are just as important as Bonding social networks.

Birds of a feather flock together. means "Building bridging social capital is harder to build than bonding social capital"

Professors give assignments. I'm a professor. So I'm giving you my toughest assignment:

Over the next 10-20 years do your best to make new forms of social connection to bring us together to help us restore the vision of american democracy.


Anonymous Angela White said...

Hello Mark,

What a great idea! I am going to use your blog a lot from now on... I am from Brazil and sometimes I just can't understand what they are saying, can't even make notes... That's why I think this is such a great idea cuz I can use your notes + mine and show my husband so he can help me out. He's really REALLY good at this. If we set up a study group he could come and help us all out. That's his major anyways...

PS: My husband served in Canada, he LOVES your country! ;)

7:57 PM  

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