Social capital and TV

A clever bit of econometrics seems to confirm something that Mark Latham argued in his tome Civilizing Global Capital.   That the tele undermines social capital.   It seemed a plausible argument, but what was the evidence other than the historical concurrence of the rise of tele and the reduction of various measures of social capital.

In “Bowling Alone,” Putnam (1995) famously argued that the rise of television may be responsible for social capital’s decline.   I investigate this hypothesis in the context of Indonesian villages. To identify the impact of exposure to television (and radio), I exploit plausibly exogenous differences in over-the-air signal strength associated with the topography of East and Central Java.   Using this approach, I find that better signal reception, which is associated with more time spent watching television and listening to radio, is associated with substantially lower levels of participation in social activities and with lower self-reported measures of trust. I find particularly strong effects on participation in local government activities, as well as on participation in informal savings groups.   However, despite the impact on social capital, improved reception does not appear to affect village governance, at least as measured by discussions in village-level meetings and by corruption in a village-level road project.

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whyisitso
whyisitso
15 years ago

Yes it’s particularly noticeable that since 1956 the attendance at community singing events has fallen disastrously.

Patrick
Patrick
15 years ago

Stop watching it then :)

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
15 years ago

I wonder what result you’d get if you measured the amount of time people spend reading books, magazines and newspapers?

Of course you’d have to control for potentially confounding variables like educational attainment and socio-economic status.

But after we’d banned tv , movies, computer games, and solitary reading then what would people have to talk about? Unless you lived in the same neighbourhood you’d have no common frame of reference.

whyisitso
whyisitso
15 years ago

And what about blogging and commenting thereon?

Andrew Norton
Andrew Norton
15 years ago

“But after we’d banned tv , movies, computer games, and solitary reading then what would people have to talk about? ”

My new year’s resolution for 2004 was to watch more TV, to widen my range of conversation topics. Like most such resolutions it lasted only a few months, but useful for chat with colleagues.

vee
vee
15 years ago

I was going to say

…and now there are computers and the demand for broadband.

reza
reza
14 years ago

Dear Friends,

A group of researchers at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, are investigating effects of Weblogs on “Social Interactions”