Bowling alone and Social Capital: Blog 4

Growing technology advances have increased over the years, which led to the idea from Robert Putnam that we are all bowling alone. Bowling alone refers to the idea that communal participation in the U.S. has been declining and people do not bowl in teams anymore, they bowl alone. (Kadushin, 2012) While there may be a decline in face to face interactions, the use of technology still provides us the ability to have strong ties and relationships with others. While bowling in groups may have decreased over the years, bowling alone has increased. That isn’t to say that we are all isolated, but with social media and cell phones, there became less of a need to go out and talk face to face. Even though in person interactions decreased, technology still has the ability to bring people closer together.

This picture shows just how many Facebook users there are. This was from January 2018, so I am sure the number has only increased since then. It just shows how social media is a big part of our lives now.

Now, people are able to stream movies and shows on Netflix or Hulu, even cable has changed over the years. Social media went from Myspace to Facebook, even my Grandma has a Facebook now. Even if I am less socially engaged in person, I am more connected through technology. I was born in Scotland and moved here when I was younger, so I still have a lot of family there. Social networking has given me the ability to talk to my family in Scotland who I wouldn’t be able to talk to regularly otherwise. I am also able to see them on Skype, and even though we aren’t directly in front of each other, I am still thankful for the technology that allows me to see them on a computer. Even since I was young, there have been many changes in terms of computers, internet, and cell phones. It makes me wonder what other advances are still to come.

Social capital Is “everything psychological and social about a person”. (Kadushin, 2012) Our social capital refers to our connections in our social networks, whether they are strong or weak ties. Our social capital is important because it gives us the ability to connect and form relationships, it brings people together. Trust between people is important when it comes to social capital, if we have something personal going on, we usually reach out and talk to someone from our strong ties, whether that be a family member, a close friend, or someone we are in a relationship with. We can trust them.

Reciprocity is part of a social capital, but I think this is an example of how social capital may not always be positive and how people could use social capital to their advantage, but not necessarily in a good way. If I volunteer for something, help a friend, or do something for someone else, I don’t do it because I expect something in return, which is what reciprocity is. It is the understanding that if someone does something for me, I’ll do something for them in return. I don’t think that is how relationships and connections between people should work. I would like to think that most people don’t think this way, and that they do things for others just because it is the right thing to do and not because they will use that for something for themselves in the future.

This picture shows what goes into social capital. The networks in social capital consist of brides and bonds.

Social capital can definitely be useful when it comes to research because we can reach out to our strong ties to conduct our research. We could also reach out to our weak ties if we needed more participants and more data. When collecting data for my own research, I can reach out to strong ties first because they are the people I am closest to, then I can start expanding the people I reach out to, I would start asking weak ties (acquaintances) that I don’t talk to regularly but I may be friends with on Facebook. Social capital helps in our daily lives because it gives us the ability to form relationships and connections, no matter how big or small with other people.

Kadushin, C. (2012). Understanding social networks: theories concepts and findings. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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