Are We ‘Bowling Alone’ — And Does it Matter?

Article by Mark Chaves

Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. By Robert D. Putnam. Simon & Schuster. The phrase “bowling alone” — the title of an article Robert Putnam published in 1995 in a relatively obscure academic journal — quickly became shorthand for the arresting claim that civic engagement is in decline. Putnam’s point was that …

Chapter 3: Religious Discourse as Public Rhetoric  in  Rediscovering the Sacred: Perspectives on Religion in Contemporary Society

Book Chapter by Robert Wuthnow

After noting how religious discourse has been neglected by sociologists, Wuthnow considers why it is important to work in this area, and how this deficit might be remedied. He turns to books by Northrop Frye and Susan Rubin Suleiman as sources which complement each other, offering critical insight for careful reflection on how persons from different perspectives can begin to understand one another.

Chapter 4: Perspectives on Religious Evolution  in  Rediscovering the Sacred: Perspectives on Religion in Contemporary Society

Book Chapter by Robert Wuthnow

Do religions evolve? In this chapter we find a discussion of where the theoretical discussion of this question with attention to three contributors to the field. How does one make a case one way or the other? This question provides the foil for analysis of how the theoretical constructs function. Wuthnow’s conclusion is that, “American religion has become more complex, more internally differentiated, and thus more adaptable to a complex, differentiated society.”

Chapter 7: International Realities  in  Rediscovering the Sacred: Perspectives on Religion in Contemporary Society

Book Chapter by Robert Wuthnow

Wuthnow suggests how awareness of international social dynamics can strengthen sociological analysis. He suggests that three foci offer fresh possibilities for understanding: on generalizable patterns, on deeper changes, and on alternative interpretations. His careful suggestions open up fresh understandings for the religious practitioner as well as the sociologist.