“Can Robert Putnam Save the American Dream?”

Putnam’s latest book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, warns that social mobility is “poised to plunge” in America. His argument is rooted in the idea of “social capital” that he developed in Bowling Alone: Social capital comes from social networks, and the children of less-educated parents have almost no hope of escaping the low-value networks into which they are born. The book is reviewed here in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The event is billed as a lecture on a new book of social science. But the speaker visiting Cambridge’s Lesley University this Monday night sounds like a political candidate on the hustings. Robert D. Putnam — Harvard political scientist, trumpeter of community revival, consultant to the last four presidents ­— is on campus to sound an alarm. “What I want to talk to you about,” he tells some 40 students and academics, is “the most important domestic challenge facing our country today. I want to talk about a growing gap between rich kids and poor kids.”

Read the rest here.