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Robert Putnams central thesis in Bowling Alone is that there has been a decline in civic engagement and social capital over the past few decades The idea of bowling alone stems from the fact that bowling in leagues from 1980 through 1993 decreased by 40 percent while individual bowlers increased by 10 percent Putnam 112 Putnam uses this metaphor for all forms of civic disengagement meaning that people virtually do as little as possible collectively and would rather focus purely on the individual rather than the group Putnams book addresses several topics of civic disengagement including a decline in civic participation and social isolation Putnam focuses on the increasing amount of television viewership and is wary to comment on technological increases like the Internet for this decline However Putnam tends to focus on what is occurring using various sorts of data and overlooks the true meaning of why it is occurring or the positive effects from an average Americans viewpoint The increase in television viewership and use of the Internet does mark a change in social habits but it does not warrant Putnams view that it causes social isolation or disengagement People in the forties and fifties did not have the same ability as society has today to watch television or use the Internet to get information It is true that 50 years ago citizens that wanted to be informed on current issues needed to attend meetings or engage in verbal conversation with other people to gather that information Today citizens spend an average of four hours a day watching television and countless hours at a computer but they are getting more detailed information than the people fifty years ago did The increase in television has allowed for all people to be better informed Television enables people to get a broader view of current events including immediate reports from around the globe and every angle of a situation because of the increase in television
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