The grey bleakness of living with loners in a post-community, post-Christian society

Mar 4, 2024 by

by James Bradshaw, Mercator:

We live in an increasingly atomised world, and Ireland is following in America’s footsteps in suffering from the consequences of this.

In his book Bowling Alone, published in 2000, Harvard’s Robert Putnam brought the disintegration of community life to light by outlining how participation in group activities had declined significantly over several decades.

Americans had become less likely to vote, less likely to attend meetings on local issues and less likely to join civic organisations.

Parents were attending parent teacher association meetings more infrequently and families were eating meals together less often. People were still bowling, but Americans were now bowling alone.

Professor Putnam has expanded upon his work significantly since then, and in his latest book titled The Upswing, he cites analysis which has been done on the use of personal pronouns in literature which showed that the use of the pronoun ‘I’ in American books doubled between 1965 and 2008.

Social atomisation and narcissism in Ireland

The growing social atomisation and narcissism – and the broader social dysfunction which naturally accompanies it – which can be seen in today’s America can be seen in Ireland and across the West.

What is the evidence of the disintegration of community in Ireland?

The first example is the most obvious: the collapse in religious practice.

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