Robert Putnam Headshot

Robert Putnam

Malkin Professor of Public Policy, Harvard University
Chapter Member: Boston SSN
Areas of Expertise:

About Robert

Putnam is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the British Academy, and past president of the American Political Science Association. In 2006, he received the Skytte Prize, the world's highest accolade for a political scientist. In 2012, Barack Obama awarded Bob the National Humanities Medal, the nation’s highest honor for contributions to the humanities. He has written fifteen books, translated into twenty languages, including Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Italy and Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community.


Why Democrats Need to Open Doors - And How They Can

  • Lara Putnam

In the News

Robert Putnam quoted by Nicholas Kristof, "America's Stacked Deck" New York Times, February 18, 2018.
Robert Putnam quoted by Christina Pazzanese, " The Rich and the Rest" US News & World Report, February 9, 2018.
Robert Putnam quoted by David Brooks, "The East Germans of the 21st Century" New York Times, January 29, 2018.
"The Real Scandal the DNC Should Avoid," Robert Putnam (with Lara Putnam), Washington Post, November 12, 2017.
Robert Putnam quoted by Jim Tankersley,, "Ben Bernanke Explains What Donald Trump Gets Wrong on the Economy" Vox, June 6, 2017.
Robert Putnam quoted by Stell Simonton, "Out-of-School Time Organizations Play Pivotal Role" Youthtoday, May 1, 2017.
Robert Putnam quoted by Michael Skalicky, "Filming Takes Place in Springfield for Documentary to Air Nationwide on PBS" Quartz, April 26, 2017.
Robert Putnam quoted by Richard Reeves, "There’s a Better Way to Celebrate Take Your Kids to Work Day: Taking Someone Else’s Kid Instead" Quartz, April 24, 2017.
Robert Putnam quoted by John M. Muresianu, "Daily Katrina: Education is a Three Front War" The Harvard Crimson, March 24, 2017.
Interview on ‘Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis’ Robert Putnam, Media Policy Center, March 13, 2017.
Robert Putnam quoted by Alan Khazei and John Bridgeland, "Our Opportunity Nation" Boston Globe, September 9, 2016.
Guest to discuss Civic Life in Decline on Conversations with Bill Kristol, Robert Putnam, March 13, 2016.
"Politico50: Robert Putnam," Robert Putnam, Interview with Christopher Thomond, Politico, September 10, 2015.
"The Growing Class Gap," Robert Putnam (with Lara Putnam), Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 20, 2008.


Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis (Simon & Schuster, 2016).

Argues that fundamental to the American Dream is the belief that our children will have better lives than we do, that Americans believe in equality of opportunity, limited only by one’s talent and hard work. But recent decades have left more Americans doubting this belief. In addition to illustrating newly researched national data, Putnam will tell this story through compelling coming-of-age stories of how growing up rich and poor has changed in all corners of America—in rural areas, the suburbs, and big cities—over the last several decades. 

American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us (with David E. Campbell) (Simon and Schuster, 2010).

Discusses three seismic shocks in America's religious landscape and explores the results, such as growing polarization and strengthening of personal interfaith ties. 

Better Together: Restoring the American Community (with Lewis M. Feldstein and Don Cohen) (Simon & Schuster, 2003).

Warns that the national stockpile of “social capital” – our reserve of personal bonds and fellowship – is seriously depleted, and outlines the framework for sustained, broad-based social change to restore America’s civic virtue.

Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (Simon & Schuster, 2001).

Draws on evidence including nearly 500,000 interviews over the last quarter century to show that we sign fewer petitions, belong to fewer organizations that meet, know our neighbors less, meet with friends less frequently, and even socialize with our families less often.