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"Bowling Alone" author to deliver keynote address for conference

Author: Arts and Letters


Robert Putnam, author of the groundbreaking best-seller “Bowling Alone,” will make the first formal presentation of his latest research in the keynote address of an interdisciplinary conference on social capital April 2 and 3 (Sunday and Monday) at the University of Notre Dame.

Titled “Social Capital in a Changing America: Recent Research Perspectives on the Workforce, Religion and Immigration,” Putnam’s talk will begin at 4p.m. April 2 in the Jordan Auditorium of the Mendoza College of Business. It is free and open to the public.

Published in 2000, “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community” demonstrates how Americans have become increasingly disconnected from family, friends, neighbors and democratic structures, and offers observations on how to reconnect. Putnam draws on evidence from almost 500,000 interviews conducted over the last 25 years to show that people, for example, sign fewer petitions, belong to fewer organizations that meet, have less interaction with neighbors, and meet and socialize less frequently with friends and family. They even bowl alone – participating in the sport more often, but not in leagues.

Putnam, the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University, is regarded as one of the most influential scholars in the social sciences generally, and, more specifically, in the study of social capital – the formal and informal sociological, political, economic, business and other interaction between people that makes up the very fabric of everyday life.

“Intuitively, we all understand social capital – that relationships matter,” said Viva Bartkus, a conference organizer and associate professor of management at Notre Dame. “The concept of social capital has swept through the social sciences, and we are looking forward to bringing leading scholars to campus for a lively set of discussions.”

The two-day conference at Notre Dame will examine a wide variety of topics, including sessions on “The State of the Union on Current Social Capital Research,” “Trust: Whom do We Trust in Social Capital?,” “Sources and Consequences of Social Capital: Recent Empirical Research,” “Reconciling Micro vs. Macro Issues in the Study of Social Capital,” “Norms, Networks and Implications of Social Capital,” and “What’s in a Label? Perspectives on Calling our Object of Study `Social Capital.’” The conference will conclude with a session titled “Possibilities and New Frontiers in Social Capital Research.” All presentations except Putnam’s talk will take place in McKenna Hall.

In addition to Putnam, participants will include some of the leading scholars in the emerging field, among them, Ron Burt from the University of Chicago, John Helliwell from the University of British Columbia, Rod Kramer from Stanford University, Roy Lewicki from Ohio State University, and Elinor Ostrom from Indiana University.

Seven faculty members from Notre Dame will make presentations: Maureen Hallinan, William P. and Hazel B. White Professor of Sociology; Bartkus and James Davis, both associate professors of management; David Campbell and David Nickerson, both assistant professors of political science; Robert Fishman, professor of sociology; and Edward Conlon, Edward Frederick Sorin Professor of Management. Carolyn Woo, Martin J. Gillen Dean of the Mendoza College of Business, and Rev. Timothy Scully, C.S.C., professor of political science at Notre Dame, will serve as moderators for Putnam’s presentation.

*Contact: * Viva Bartkus at 574-631-9997 or

Originally published by Dennis Brown at on March 10, 2006.