Modern Technology And Its Effects On Social Capital

879 words - 4 pages

Robert Putnam’s theory on "social capital" written in 1995 and titled “Bowling Alone” illustrates his views in the declining public participation in civic groups and the corresponding decrease in "social capital." Before we are able to consider Putnam’s views, we must first decide on an appropriate definition for "social capital." Putnam, in his article, defines “social capital” as referring to features of public organization such as networks, norms and social trust that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit. (Putnam, Robert pg. 2) In my opinion, this term encompasses those non-tangible interactions that exist within a community.
Since 1995, when Putnam’s article ...view middle of the document...

The impact of this is clearly evident in Putnam’s research when he describes the dwindling participation in civic organizations and the impact on “social capital.”
I do believe that we need a more encompassing definition of “social capital.” The new definition would do more to address the growing number interactions that are facilitated by modern technology. These interactions are difficult to measure because, for the most part, they are done in private.
Putnam’s theory of “social capital” has implications within the criminal justice system. Two of Putnam's explanations describe how “the technological transformation of leisure” and the “movement of women into the work force” (Putnam, R pg. 8-9) have had an impact on the criminal justice system and are, in my opinion, significant. First, the movement of women into the work force has created a generation of “latch key” children. Basically, children are thrust into an environment of being supervised by television rather than an adult because both parents need to work to survive. What we are left with is children without necessary supervision during their most formative years. In addition, single mothers are forced into playing the role of both parents and provider. These new roles that women are forced into require her to spend more time at work. This results in less time spent parenting and less energy to devote to civic organizations. Thus, the women’s movement into the labor force has had a negative impact on the criminal justice system. Children are left unsupervised for longer periods of time, which results in increased juvenile delinquency. Children often grow up with lacking parental role models in their lives, which leads to poor decisions and eventual negative interaction with the criminal justice...

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