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"The America-is-in-decline idea": Dr. Brian Jones on our national social structures

Is American society falling apart?

For Brian Jones, PhD, the answer isn’t as simple as yes or no.

In his new book, Social Capital in America: Counting Buried Treasure (Paradigm Publishers, 2011), Dr. Jones tackles the question of the decline of American society. Using national surveys, Dr. Jones tells the complicated story of American social structures at the end of the 20th century.

The idea for the book, he explains, was based on another scholar’s work, with which Dr. Jones didn’t agree. “My inspiration was Robert Putnam’s bestseller Bowling Alone which essentially argued that American society was falling apart. The book was, I thought, both well-evidenced and wrong. Figuring out why led me to develop my own model of social capital which is presented in my book.”

His research turned up interesting correlations that show the question may not be quite so black and white.  Nor is it, he says, an idea new to our time. “I think the America-is-in-decline idea has been here from the start,” he says, “perhaps because we invented this society from scratch—‘The First New Nation.’”

Dr. Jones, a professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, will give a talk on his book on Wednesday, Oct. 19, at 12:30 p.m. in the library first floor lounge. “For those who attend, I shall offer data in colorful figures sketching what has really changed–and not changed–about America since 1972.”

This event, the second Scholarship@Villanova lecture of the year, is free and open to the public.

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Last Modified: October 2, 2011

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