Documentary Educational Resources

To support a feature-length documentary on the pivotal work of social scientist and Bowling Alone author Robert Putnam

  • Amount $500,000
  • City Watertown, MA
  • Investigator Alice Apley
  • Year 2020
  • Program Public Understanding
  • Sub-program Film

A professor of public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School, Robert Putnam became famous in 2000 when he published the bestseller Bowling Alone, a prescient analysis of the fraying of civic life in America. In that work, Putnam vividly documented the unraveling of the clubs, groups, leagues, and other community organizations that had previously bound Americans together, leading to social isolation, malaise, and a collapse of civic engagement and trust in American institutions. Since then, he has published important work on the religious roots of the culture wars and the decrease of social interactions among different socioeconomic classes.  Funds from this grant support the production of Unraveling America: A Social Science Detective Story with Robert Putnam, a documentary film about Putnam and his work, to be directed jointly by filmmakers Rebecca Davis and Pete Davis, a former student of Putnam’s.

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