Putnam and Diversity (IV)

There have been a lot of posts in the blogosphere about Harvard Professor Robert D. Putnam’s the recent finding that diversity (at least in the short to medium-term) challenges community cohesion.  The underlying well-written article that caused all thus controversy is available here.

There are some very interesting blog posts on these two sites.

International Herald Tribune comments
Sepia Mutiny blog

Robert Putnam discussed these issues further with Lani Guinier and Pat Buchanan on Tom Ashbrook’s On Point radio show (8/9/07).

And while there has not been much scholarly critique of Putnam’s findings, one outspoken academic critic is Steven Durlauf who claims in a letter published on a blog post that the low social capital folks moved to the places with greater diversity (a self-selection argument that seems rather counter-intuitive, i.e. that the least trusting move to the places with greater diversity and the most trusting leave for places with greater homogeneity).


2 responses to “Putnam and Diversity (IV)

  1. The downside of diversity is temporary. Read more here.

  2. I would add one more dimension to the discussion of why people pull back from diverse social interaction: laws passed for those diverse “protected classes.”

    Laws, that encourage members of “protected classes” to sue a co-worker (and the company) for a casual remark, or an employer for not embracing affirmative action aggressively enough to suit them, or a business for not responding with alacrity to their wants, have infected the social, business and workplace environments with the fear of finding oneself the target of a discrimination lawsuit. Just as a turtle pulls in as a defense mechanism against attack, people will pull back in caution rather than risk being exposed to legal attacks. Once it becomes natural to be withdrawn for whatever reason, it becomes the way people live.

    These well-intentioned laws have followed another law: the Law of Unintended Results. People will not get close if they fear or resent one another.

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