Modern Technology and Its Effects on Social Capital

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 was written, there have been substantial changes in technology that have a direct impact on “social capital.” Some of these changes include the widespread use of the Internet, the proliferation of the cellular phone, increased availability of cable and satellite media outlets, and a host of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.   Each of these has had some impact on social capital and, when taken as a whole, have significantly changed the way we view communities and how they are defined.
    Prior to the proliferation of modern technology, communities were easier to define. And because they were simpler, it was easier to view how interactions and participation within the community affected “social capital.” In the past, communities were identified by central locators, such as businesses, churches, and schools, and then drawing the community’s boundary lines by finding those living furthest away that used those services. This was often referred to as the Chicago School Technique. (Kappler, V.   Gaines, L. pg.99) Now, communities of interest are more easily formed with affordable technology allowing members from the community to interact with others with similar interest anywhere in the world. The impact of this is clearly evident in Putnam’s research when he describes...