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Rebuilding Social Capital, the latest monograph in the Christian Social Thought Series, is now available. Social capital – the capacity of people to cooperate toward common aims – is an indispensable element in a free and prosperous society. Many studies show that social capital has declined sharply in many places in recent decades, with devastating consequences.

Social pathologies, such as the breakdown of the family, addiction and deaths of despair, are strongly correlated with weakening social ties and norms. The decline of social capital is not just merely an academic curiosity but has far-reaching real-word consequences.

Authors Maryann and Barry Keating draw on work from scholars such as Robert Putnam, Francis Fukuyama and Charles Murray to document this crisis in social capital. The volume ably summarizes the state of sociological scholarship on the issue. The authors also bring new light from both Catholic social teaching and cutting-edge economic analysis to offer insight into the task of restoring it.

In a time of increasing social breakdown, alienation and polarization, this volume both expands our understanding of the underlying causes of social crises and offers a model for productive engagement for citizens, policy makers and people of faith. The project of rebuilding social capital deserves the commitment of all those concerned about preserving what is good while building a better future.

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Daniel J. Hugger is librarian and research associate at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He studied history at Hillsdale College and earned a State of Michigan teaching certificate at Calvin College, where he completed a thesis on the role of the imagination in the writings of St. Ignatius of Loyola. For his work in history at Calvin he was nominated for a Lilly Fellowship. He has taught history, English, and economics at public schools in the Grand Rapids area and has lectured on Lord Acton.