Is American Society Falling Apart?

Brian Jones
Brian Jones
Villanova University

Brian Jones is a professor of sociology who was born in the Philadelphia area and never left. He earned all three of his degrees at Penn and has spent his career at Villanova University. In his first year of eligibility, he won the prestigious Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. Dr. Jones’ most recent book on today’s topic is entitled Social Capital in American Life.

Overview

Is American Society Falling Apart?  You probably have been drawn to this presentation because you already have an answer in your head. But what does the question mean in this context? It is not about toxic politics—we have already had quite enough of that. It is not about our constitutional democracy or the corporate economy; those are the structures of American society. This topic is about how we live our everyday lives. We will examine four critical pieces of America: family life, work, voluntary association, and social networks. The conventional phrase “Get a life!” refers to those pieces — prompting us to start a family, get a job, join a community group, and socialize with our friends. We spend 90% of our waking time doing these things, servicing what Professor Jones calls “social capital.” In this presentation, he will call upon fifty years of data from the General Social Survey–the gold standard for polling–to show what is really happening in American society.

 

Discussion questions:

  1. What is better/worse about America now compared to when you got out of college?
  1. Is workaholism good or bad for America?
  1. Has the Internet been good or bad for America?

 

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