Community Involvement

I decided to make this interesting and answer most of the odd questions.

1. In Robert Putnam’s “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community,” he discusses a decline in social interaction in the 20th century. He talks about how engagement has declined in various organizations, religious services, club meetings and other communities. How can a person’s education predict his/her level of involvement in civil life? 

I feel like the more a person has been educated (whether it be through years of experience in a field or just a classroom education), the more they realize how important community structure is for success.  I think people who have been more educated are more likely to recognized a desire or civil duty to get involved with religion, clubs, and other community.  The probably also have better jobs, which means they make more money while working fewer hours, which means they probably have more time and means to participate in community organizations.

3. One form of social capital is official membership in volunteer organizations. According to Putnam, there are three main types of volunteer organizations in American society: (1) Community-based organizations, (2) church-based organizations and (3) work-based organizations. Which of these types of organizations do you get most involved with? 

Would a work-based organization really be a volunteer organization if you’re getting paid for it?  Just a thought.

I am most involved in church-based organizations, because that’s the easiest way for me to be involved.  I’ve been a member all my life, so I’m already at church.  Therefore, it’s easier for me to be involved with church.  Besides, our church is all about volunteering service.  That’s what we do.  When I want to volunteer, I usually do it through church, or through Y-Serve (through BYU, which is sponsored by the church).  So, just about all my volunteering is with church-based organizations.

 5. Putnam gives a few examples of informal social connections in his book and characterizes two different types of people: Machers and Schmoozers. Machers are people who make things happen in the community and are all around “good citizens.” They follow current trends, follow politics and work on community projects. Schmoozers are people who spend time in informal conversation and communion. They tend to host dinner parties, play cards and throw barbecues. Are you a Macher or a schmoozer? What characterizes you as such? 

(Side-note: this question caught my eye, because I speak German, and  “der Macher” is the German word for a doer.  Schmooze sounds like it should be a German word, but it’s not. )

Can I be a schmachzer?  Like a mix between the two?  Maybe with a slight tendency towards schmoozing?  Ok, a heaving leaning toward schmoozing?

I think people would love to be more involved, but they have a difficult time finding the time to do so.  For instance, in high school, I used to watch the news with my parents.  I knew what was going on, and I had opinions about it.  Now I’m in college.  I don’t have a TV connection (we have a TV to watch movies, but we don’t actually have network or cable tv because it’s such an ancient TV and the cable connection in my apartment doesn’t work).  I don’t watch the news.  Occasionally I get updates on the news from the New York Times app, but overall, I don’t know a whole lot about what’s happening in the world.  I would love to know more, but I would rather spend the little free time I do have to know what’s going on in my immediate bubble.  So, I get on facebook instead, or learn about current social trends or what my friends are doing.  Or, I watch a movie with friends, or just spend time talking.   Sometimes we’re just silly, sometimes we actually have serious conversations about society, cultures, value systems, etc…   I like to make time for service projects occasionally, but overall, I like to try to help the people around me.  Sometimes I’m not very good at it, but I try.  I guess maybe many Americans tend to be more involved in their smaller social circles that it’s harder to measure involvement on the larger community scale.


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