Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Diversity and social capital

Apparently, Robert Putnam, who used to worry only about bowling alone, has found that ethnic diversity reduces social capital. Our typical response to greater ethnic diversity in our communities is "to ‘hunker down’—that is, to pull in like a turtle.” In diverse communities (apparently almost a contradiction in terms), we tend "to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from [our] 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.”

Putnam thinks that there are long-run benefits, but, in the short and medium term, the costs seem pretty high.

I haven’t read the original research, but here’s an abstract and a reference, for those who have access to this journal.

Discussions - 2 Comments

Somehow I doubt all the affirmations of the value of diversity on the part of those in the educational apparat were ever much derived from discrete empirical observations of the world around them. (Though would those in corporate personnel offices be similarly given to shtick over thought?).

That diversity is, or can be, a plus in some respects is simply common sense. However, "Diversity is a strength" is an ideological position, unconcerned with reality.
It's great to see that Putnam's research blows this nonsense out of the water. It's very much what common sense would predict, but social scientific support for common sense is always welcome. Conservatives need to publicize the Putnam study as much as possible, as unapologetically as possible, especially since the professor himself seems so embarrassed by it. Apparently Putnam won't be doing much to promote it, either, being a PC liberal and having to get along with the folks at Harvard. We can get that the "mainstream" media will either ignore the findings or trash them. So it's up to us.

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