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Religion as Social Capital: Producing the Common Good Paperback – January 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews


Religion and Social Capital is a valuable contribution to recent debates about civil society and civic renewal in the United States and an important corrective to the relative neglect of religious institutions in those debates. From diverse perspectives and employing a variety of understandings of social capital, the authors examine critically the role of America's vast array of religious institutions in generating social capital and promoting civic engagement in this country. This is a rich collection that will reward the reader with a multitude of leads for unravelling the complex story of the place of religion in American civic life. --Michael W. Foley, Department of Politics, The Catholic University of Arizona

This volume is a valuable contribution to ongoing discussion about religion's place in civil society and its role in fostering social capital. These authors take religion seriously without romanticizing its potential or obscuring its limits. They challenge all of us concerned with the health of American democracy to do the same. --Mark Chaves, Professor of Sociology, University of Arizona

The concept of social capital is under wide discussion in the contemporary social sciences. It is formed by a vital civil society, and evoked and protected in democratic polities with a strong sense of limited state. Most treatments of it recognize that religious communities play some role, but too few systematic studies have assessed the impact of religion and faith-based organizations in generating, sustaining, and shaping it. This fine collection of essays will be of interest not only to social scientists and political theorists, but is should also be of concern to all involved in the debates over faith-based social-service programs and to clergy of every stripe. The implications of what they do may be deeper and wider than they know. --Max L. Stackhouse, Professor of Christian Ethics, Director, Kuyper Center for Public Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary

About the Author

Corwin E. Smidt is Professor of Political Science and Director of Paul B. Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is the author and editor of Religion and the Culture War, The Bully Pulpit and Evangelicalism: The Next Generation.

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