ISSN 0080–6757© 2007 The Author(s)Journal compilation © 2007 Nordic Political Science AssociationScandinavian Political Studies, Vol. 30 – No. 2, 2007
Blackwell Publishing LtdOxford, UKSCPSScandinavian Political Studies0080-6757© 2007 Nordic Political Science AssociationXXXOriginal Articles© 2007 The Author(s) Journal compilation © 2007 Nordic Political Science Association© 2007 The Author(s) Journal compilation © 2007 Nordic Political Science Association
E Pluribus Unum
: Diversity andCommunity in the Twenty-first CenturyThe 2006 Johan Skytte Prize Lecture
Robert D. Putnam*
Ethnic diversity is increasing in most advanced countries, driven mostly by sharp increases inimmigration. In the long run immigration and diversity are likely to have important cultural,economic, fiscal, and developmental benefits. In the short run, however, immigration and ethnicdiversity tend to reduce social solidarity and social capital. New evidence from the US suggeststhat in ethnically diverse neighbourhoods residents of all races tend to ‘hunker down’. Trust(even of one’s own race) is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friends fewer. Inthe long run, however, successful immigrant societies have overcome such fragmentation bycreating new, cross-cutting forms of social solidarity and more encompassing identities. Illustra-tions of becoming comfortable with diversity are drawn from the US military, religious institu-tions, and earlier waves of American immigration.
One of the most important challenges facing modern societies, and at thesame time one of our most significant opportunities, is the increase in ethnicand social heterogeneity in virtually all advanced countries. The most certainprediction that we can make about almost any modern society is that it willbe more diverse a generation from now than it is today. This is true fromSweden to the United States and from New Zealand to Ireland. In thisarticle, I want to begin to explore the implications of that transition to amore diverse, multicultural society for ‘social capital’ – the concept forwhich I have been honored by the Skytte Prize committee.
I begin with a word or two about this concept, which has been the subjectof an exponentially expanding and controversial literature over the lastfifteen years. I prefer a ‘lean and mean’ definition: social networks and theassociated norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness.
The core insight of thisapproach is extremely simple: like tools (physical capital) and training(human capital), social networks have value. Networks have value, first, topeople who are in the networks. For example, economic sociologists haveshown repeatedly that labor markets are thoroughly permeated by networks
* Harvard University and University of Manchester. E-mail: email@example.com