Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis

Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis

Robert D. Putnam / Dec 15, 2019

Our Kids The American Dream in Crisis A groundbreaking examination of the growing inequality gap from the bestselling author of Bowling Alone why fewer Americans today have the opportunity for upward mobility It s the American dream get a

  • Title: Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis
  • Author: Robert D. Putnam
  • ISBN: 9781476769899
  • Page: 233
  • Format: Hardcover
  • A groundbreaking examination of the growing inequality gap from the bestselling author of Bowling Alone why fewer Americans today have the opportunity for upward mobility.It s the American dream get a good education, work hard, buy a house, and achieve prosperity and success This is the America we believe in a nation of opportunity, constrained only by ability and efforA groundbreaking examination of the growing inequality gap from the bestselling author of Bowling Alone why fewer Americans today have the opportunity for upward mobility.It s the American dream get a good education, work hard, buy a house, and achieve prosperity and success This is the America we believe in a nation of opportunity, constrained only by ability and effort But during the last twenty five years we have seen a disturbing opportunity gap emerge Americans have always believed in equality of opportunity, the idea that all kids, regardless of their family background, should have a decent chance to improve their lot in life Now, this central tenet of the American dream seems no longer true or at the least, much less true than it was Robert Putnam about whom The Economist said, His scholarship is wide ranging, his intelligence luminous, his tone modest, his prose unpretentious and frequently funny, offers a personal but also authoritative look at this new American crisis Putnam begins with his high school class of 1959 in Port Clinton, Ohio By and large the vast majority of those students our kids went on to lives better than those of their parents But their children and grandchildren have had harder lives amid diminishing prospects Putnam tells the tale of lessening opportunity through poignant life stories of rich and poor kids from cities and suburbs across the country, drawing on a formidable body of research done especially for this book Our Kids is a rare combination of individual testimony and rigorous evidence Putnam provides a disturbing account of the American dream that should initiate a deep examination of the future of our country.

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    About "Robert D. Putnam"

      • Robert D. Putnam

        Robert David Putnam is a political scientist and professor of public policy at the Harvard University John F Kennedy School of Government He is also visiting professor and director of the Manchester Graduate Summer Programme in Social Change, University of Manchester UK Putnam developed the influential two level game theory that assumes international agreements will only be successfully brokered if they also result in domestic benefits His most famous and controversial work, Bowling Alone, argues that the United States has undergone an unprecedented collapse in civic, social, associational, and political life social capital since the 1960s, with serious negative consequences.


    1. How could he idealize the 1950s? How could he say equality of opportunity has declined since then? For whom?Even if I hadn't been studying The Black Swan, even if I'd never read Thinking, Fast and Slow, I would have had to be questioning.Why does the fact that all the classes tended to live together in close proximity in the '50s make that decade the pinnacle? Why not the 1920s or '30s, when whole families lived together and whole communities were rooted in one place?Just coincidentally, '59, th [...]

    2. The American dream of opportunity and upward mobility is fading fast, and it has happened during most of our lifetimes (since 1970). Most of us have heard the news about the trend toward increased disparity in wealth. This book makes the point that there is a similar trend toward disparity in many social, cultural and educational ways. The following graph demonstrates the trend by showing changes in education attainment over the past several decades.[image error]This difference is not caused by [...]

    3. Yeah, what can you say about a book like this? Seems to be getting a near universal 4-star rating here, as it is well-written, meticulously researched, interesting, and exceedingly timely.That said, the book covers a lot of well-explored territory, and I rarely found myself surprised by any of the book's conclusions. The book makes an attempt to say that class rather than race or other factors is the driving determinate for kids' life outcomes. This may or may not be true -- frankly it's beyond [...]

    4. Everything that you need to know about the lack of opportunity equality -- and therefore the lack of upward mobility -- in today's America can be summed up in one graph on page 190 of this book. It displays the results of a study showing that a poor 8th grade kid who scores well on standardized tests is less likely to graduate from college than a rich 8th grade kid who scores poorly on the same tests.So if you are a kid with the misfortune of being born near the bottom of our greasy class ladder [...]

    5. The widening gap between upper and lower income levels in the USA has been cause for a lot of research and discussion. Mr. Putnam's book considers one aspect of inequality: how if affects the opportunity of children in this country to advance beyond the class into which they have been born, which used to be known as the American Dream. He begins with changes in his own home town of Port Clinton, Ohio, looking at how children from disparate backgrounds in his youth, the 1950s, compare to kids gro [...]

    6. Bryan Alexander hosted a readalong of this book on his blog, where there has been thoughtful ongoing discussion chapter by chapter. He also talked about the book on the 30th episode of the Reading Envy Podcast. The best discussions are in those two locations.The book is well worth the read if you are interested in socioeconomic topics, particularly if you work with kids in any way. I read it from the perspective of changing demographics at my own institution, more because I wanted to be presente [...]

    7. This is a report of Putnam's latest study on inequality in education in America. Qualitative interview results for a selected set of respondents which is then supplemented by summaries of current results from larger sample statistical studies. It is a timely book that is easy to read. The results - that inequality is currently being driven by class rather than racial divisions - are reasonable and well presented. While I enjoyed the book, I did not find it outstanding. I have read much of the re [...]

    8. Thank you to the Publisher and Netgalley for an opportunity to read Our Kids. I usually read fiction and mysteries with an occasional foray into history and memoirs so this was not within the scope of my usual reading. But the description was really interesting and I am glad I took the chance. Through a combination of personal stories and an extensive review of recent research, Putnam describes the growing economic gap between rich and poor, with an emphasis on the declining opportunities for up [...]

    9. Through the use of stereotypes and previously done research the authors try to write a book about the disparities of income gaps and offer no real solutions.nybooks/articles/archi

    10. I was very much looking forward to reading this book. I was not disappointed and I can strongly recommend it. As always, Putnam has a lot to say and delivers in style. The central argument of this book is that inequality *of opportunity* in America is growing (alongside economic inequality), to the point that the poorer clusters of the society experience a present and a future that is virtually unimaginable to those coming from privileged backgrounds. The book is basically a description of socia [...]

    11. "If our kids are in trouble--my kids, our kids, anyone's kids---we all have a responsibility to look after them." I place this quote at the beginning of my review--even though it is the last quote of the book (p 261) because it delineates those who will want to read it from those who will ignore its profound proofs and conclusions.There are those who see kids as Our Kids and those who complain about "those kids." Putnam's book is definitely for the former. Looking at the basic systems that suppo [...]

    12. The non-fiction genre is not a favorite of mine -- it doesn't even rank in the top ten -- but I was compelled to read this book by my sister-in-law, a recently retired, highly-respected public school teacher, who slid it into my hands the last time I saw her and told me she had already purchased four more copies for her grown children.The book is about an opportunity gap that has emerged over the past five or six decades between children born to educated and uneducated parents. Putnam and his Ha [...]

    13. For more reviews visit, girlwithabookblog.wordpressA lot of press have published very enthusiastic and positive reviews about Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert D. Putnam, but as someone who works in the education field, has a background in family, youth, and educational sociology, and is a frequent reader of nonfiction, I must strongly disagree with the bubble of positivity surrounding this book. The book covers what the author believes to be the disintegration of the “American [...]

    14. I picked this up after reading a review, having enjoyed his book "Bowling Alone." As I'm sure others have said, this book is more of an aggregation of reasonably well-known results from other social science researchers than a presentation of original research (at least on the quantitative side). That's not necessarily a knock against it.The main thesis is that in mid-century America, there wasn't (too) much separation between the lives and life-chances of children raised in upper and lower class [...]

    15. When I read 'Bowling Alone' years ago, it made a big impression on me. I was looking forward to this book - despite the depressing theme - both because of the previous one, and because I now work with a lot of young adults who are dealing with challenges that I could only imagine at their ages. There is a lot of powerful information here. The fact that surprised me most was that when you look at the academic achievement / cognitive development gap between kids whose parents went no farther than [...]

    16. If our kids are in trouble—my kids, our kids, anyone’s kids—we all have a responsibility to look after them.”71 In today’s America, not only is Ash right, but even those among us who think like Emerson should acknowledge our responsibility to these children. For America’s poor kids do belong to us and we to them. They are our kids.That was the last line of the book. I liked the interviews with people from different backgrounds and the statistics to support how much a divide there is [...]

    17. Meh. It's so hard to read non-fiction books you're not interested in. Well-researched, well written, and easy to understand. But it was very repetitive, very sentimental and anecdotal, painting an idyllic picture of the 1950s. Meh.

    18. Did not finish.ough interesting from a sociological point of view about the effects of parenting, finance, and education among several different time frames and placesPort Clinton, Ohio for one. Also Atlanta, Georgia, etc. What a shame there is so much disparity! #huronreader

    19. There isn't anything new here, if you're a reasonably aware person, but the information is presented well. Should be required reading for all Republicans - not that I know any.

    20. Opportunity versus income equality, the books main ideas and why this matters (but I'll start with the why, then jump back) Why: This book is a wake up call. If we want to preserve the things that we love about our country we need to make changes, quickly. This plays to our strengths, as innovation is as American in apple pie, but also to weakness of the human condition - it's always possible to ignore looming issue (the climate change debate is a slight parallel). The silver lining in the storm [...]

    21. I had to race through this book because I bought it on Sunday afternoon and wanted to finish it before seeing a lecture by the author, Bob Putnam, on Monday afternoon. The book's main points are pretty easy to follow, however, and so I don't think I missed much in rushing.First major point: there really is a major change in equality of opportunity between kids raised in the 1950s and kids raised today. Lots of things play a role in this, particularly the way that the rich are clustering together [...]

    22. Such a depressing title to begin my 2017 reader's journey. Our Kids was written by a sociologist from the Erie shores of my home state. He grew up in the misted-in-memory idyll of 1950s white America in a little town called Port Clinton. I am familiar with this town as I drove through it many times during the 1980s while making the dull trek between my parent's home, on the east side of Cleveland and my university, which was smack in the midst of the corn fields of north west Ohio. My family sti [...]

    23. Spoiler: American society is highly unequal and becoming more so. As usual, Putnam does a masterful job of summarizing social science research while integrating vivid portraits of the human lives behind the numbers. Chapter by chapter, he breaks down the sources of inequality, widening out from family structure to parenting practices to schools to communities. His overall theme is the increased focus of better off families on doing everything possible to maximize the competitive advantage of the [...]

    24. A sobering account of inequality and social mobility. It was published in 2015, and this quote sent chills down my spine (and it's the height of summer here in the UK): ' under severe economic or international pressures - such as the pressures that overwhelmed Europe and America in the 1930 - that "inert" mass might suddenly prove highly volatile and open to manipulation by anti-democratic demagogues at the ideological extremes.'Shudder.

    25. Putnam finally perfected a concise yet fresh and engaging writing style for his analysis of dense and complex social science, this time about the growing opportunity gap in America. A page-turner for social science nerds like me, for sure. A bit disappointed, though, that he did a less than satisfying job convincing his readers why exactly they should care, i.e how our own health, wealth, and future successes depend so much on treating 'those kids' as 'our kids'. (Perhaps because he covered that [...]

    26. An exceptional book that outlines the source, realities, and solutions for addressing America's growing divide between the lower and upper classes.

    27. Simply one of the best books I've finished this year. Had to read it for a class and was blown away by it. Should be standard reading for all Americans. A truly important piece.

    28. Interesting as relates to inequality gap and thinking about parenting. To me, this book reiterates the importance of not just looking out for myself/my kids, but those around me as well (and those who maybe aren't around me but would be under different circumstances).

    29. At first, I didn't find the juxtaposed micro-macro, qualitative-quantitative aspect of this book compelling. After reading his "Bowling Alone," I was ready for more of the same. However, with the explanation at the end of the book, I changed my mind. I was convinced that this is an important part of making the message hit home. Overall, definitely an important book.

    30. I was excited to read this latest book by Robert Putnam after having been impressed with his book Bowling Alone a decade or so ago. Our Kids documents and explores the growing opportunity gap in the US, and clarifies that the gap is more about class (and more specifically education level) than it is about race. A lot of the information in the book is old news in a way, but he brings it all together in a compelling way.The biggest take-away, I think, is that there is more de facto class segregati [...]

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