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Putnam's explanation is that for some reason, perhaps related to the effects of World War II (WWII), this generation was highly civic in terms of local associations and participation.
Indeed, by the time BA was written in 2000 Putnam announced that, ‘Of all the domains in which I have traced the consequences of social capital, in none is the importance of social connectedness so well-established as in the case of health and well-being'.
to voice strong claims with regard to the beneficial health effects of norms of reciprocity and trust in social networks.
Next, we link the current theoretical emphasis on social cohesion to earlier social science attempts at advancing the beneficial effects of lack of conflict in Europe and the US.
In order to build the argument that we should be concerned about social capital, Putnam reviews the evidence on a series of indicators showing a decline in community involvement in the US during approximately the last three decades.
These findings are in some ways heartening: its easier to join a group than to lose weight, exercise regularly or quit smoking.' The reader can only assume that Putnam is basing these wild claims on studies showing that the relative risk of smoking on mortality was similar to the relative risk found in some studies of low social support.
These claims seem to be based on rather naïve epidemiological interpretations of relative risks across studies, which exclude considerations of the population, study design and the important issues of residual confounding.Putnam then reviews the empirical support for these alternative explanatory variables and concludes that, in order of importance, it is generational change, television, increased commuting, and time pressure (overwork) which explain US social capital decline.Putnam suggests that generational change accounts for 50% of the decline in social capital.Here we present an overview of Putnam's claims, their supporting evidence, and we draw several consequences of the BA hypothesis for epidemiology and public health.We argue that the omission of class, race and gender relations and political variables from research on community trust and norms of reciprocity limits the usefulness of social capital as framework for social epidemiology.Kawachi and Berkman have argued cogently that, ‘A useful distinction can be drawn here between social capital and social networks.Social networks are a characteristic that can be measured at the individual level, whereas social capital should be properly considered a characteristic of the collective (neighbourhood, community, society) to which the individual belongs.In addition, we are unaware of any study that has shown that the act of joining a group conferred the same health protective effect as not smoking. social support, social isolation) are associated with mortality, morbidity, and the progression of disease, notably from chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disorders.However, even if lack of social support or social isolation had strong effects on a variety of health outcomes, these psychosocial constructs cannot be equated with social capital as defined above—which is as a community, not individual, characteristic.environmentalism) that do not visibly support his claims that social capital has declined.Putnam poses several possible causes for the supposed decline in social capital.