2005 年 56 巻 1 号 p. 294-312,355
The aim of this paper is to explain that the so-called ‘crisis of American democracy’ revealed from 1960s is related to changes in the quality of “social capital”. R. D. Putnam contends that the accumulation of social capital enhances the performance of democratic institutions. Conversely, a decrease in social capital can lead to democratic malfunctioning. Expanding this argument, Putman analyzed different forms of people's engagement in public life, and concluded that the decline of civic virtue in the US was not directly caused by changes in socio-economic structure and formal institutions.
This paper takes a critical stance on Putnam's view and examines the weakening of social capital in the US in relation to changes in institutional design which resulted from industrialization and the development of the welfare state. It argues that it was institutionally-embedded liberalism that invited the collapse of traditional forms of ‘American community’ by promoting self-centred action based on “utilitarian and expressive individualism”. This contributed to the decline of republican traditions and the diminishing of social capital, thereby undermining the democratic performance of institutions.