Web Insight: participation in clubs and volunteer organizations (internet users vs. non-users)
Robert Putnam noted in his landmark work, Bowling Alone, that Americans are participating in clubs and voluntary organizations less than their parents and grandparents did.
Might the internet have something to do with this change? Does time spent online displace time previously spent in these organizations?
According to data from the Center’s Digital Future Survey, from 2005, when we first asked this question, to 2016, internet users actually spent more time on average in clubs and voluntary organizations than non-users.
For example, in 2016, internet users spent 1.9 hours per week on average participating in clubs and voluntary organizations, versus 1.2 hours for non-users. So there was no evidence of such displacement.
The only exception to internet users spending more time participating in clubs and voluntary organizations was the last time we asked this question, in 2018. In that year internet users spent 1.9 hours per week on average participating in clubs and voluntary organizations, versus 2.3 hours for non-users.
It will be interesting to see if this becomes the new normal, or, perhaps, there is a reversion back to the previous pattern.
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October 21, 2019