Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Greater Diversity = Lower Social Capital?

A Harvard political scientist finds that diversity hurts civic life. What happens when a liberal scholar unearths an inconvenient truth? From "The Downside of Diversity" in Sunday's Boston Globe:

In his findings, Putnam writes that those in more diverse communities tend to "distrust their neighbors, regardless of the color of their skin, to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more but have less faith that they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television."

"People living in ethnically diverse settings appear to 'hunker down' -- that is, to pull in like a turtle," Putnam writes.

Higher diversity means lower social capital.

Via Tom McMahon


At 8/07/2007 9:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post would have been more worthwhile if you had included the complete arguement presented in the article, this other arguement is captured in the following exerpt:

So how to explain New York, London, Rio de Janiero, Los Angeles -- the great melting-pot cities that drive the world's creative and financial economies?

The image of civic lassitude dragging down more diverse communities is at odds with the vigor often associated with urban centers, where ethnic diversity is greatest. It turns out there is a flip side to the discomfort diversity can cause. If ethnic diversity, at least in the short run, is a liability for social connectedness, a parallel line of emerging research suggests it can be a big asset when it comes to driving productivity and innovation. In high-skill workplace settings, says Scott Page, the University of Michigan political scientist, the different ways of thinking among people from different cultures can be a boon.

"Because they see the world and think about the world differently than you, that's challenging," says Page, author of "The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies." "But by hanging out with people different than you, you're likely to get more insights. Diverse teams tend to be more productive."

In other words, those in more diverse communities may do more bowling alone, but the creative tensions unleashed by those differences in the workplace may vault those same places to the cutting edge of the economy and of creative culture.

At 8/07/2007 12:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Non diverse groups can organize effectively on common experience, values, and goals. Diverse groups are less likely to present effective resistance.

Yes, resistance. Diversity is the divide part of the left's divide and conquer.

At 8/08/2007 8:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm surprised they have internet service out there in that shack in the woods you're living in. Keep "fighting the good fight" against your imaginary left wing enemies.

At 8/08/2007 11:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love a good fight.

At 8/09/2007 6:25 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"So how to explain New York, London, Rio de Janiero, Los Angeles -- the great melting-pot cities that drive the world's creative and financial economies?"...

Hmmm, someone is making the bizzare assumption that these alledged melting pots are driven by diversity...

Couldn't it be that in spite of the supposed diversity (more like balkanization if one experiences these 'melting pots' up close and personal) hard working people get the job done anyway?

At 1/10/2008 12:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yet more, yet from Boston globe:

After releasing the initial results in 2001, Putnam says he spent time “kicking the tires really hard” to be sure the study had it right. Putnam realized, for instance, that more diverse communities tended to be larger, have greater income ranges, higher crime rates, and more mobility among their residents — all factors that could depress social capital independent of any impact ethnic diversity might have.

“People would say, ‘I bet you forgot about X,’” Putnam says of the string of suggestions from colleagues. “There were 20 or 30 X’s.”


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