The Careless Society: Community and Its Counterfeits

The Careless Society: Community and Its Counterfeits

The Careless Society: Community and Its Counterfeits

The Careless Society: Community and Its Counterfeits


Amid all the hand-wringing about the loss of community in America these days, here is a book that celebrates the ability of neighborhoods to heal themselves from within. John McKnight shows how competent communities have been invaded and colonized by professionalized services- often with devastating results. Overwhelmed by these social services, the spirit of community falters: families collapse, schools fail, violence spreads, and medical systems spiral out of control. Instead of more or better services, the basis for resolving many of America's social problems is the community capacity of the local citizens.


How is it that America has become so dispirited? The sense of social disarray is pervasive: families collapsing, schools failing, violence spreading, medical systems out of control, justice systems overwhelmed, prisons burgeoning, human services degenerating, and surveys and studies everywhere indicating the loss of faith of Americans in their basic institutions.

The most common response is a call for institutional reform. Leaders urge Total Quality Management programs, new technologies, "right-sizing," lifelong learning, and new highways for information that will renew the services produced by our systems. The chapters in this book outline the reason that these reforms will fail. And they point toward the path that will allow us to create an effective, satisfying society.

The discussions point out that our problem is not ineffective service-producing institutions. In fact, our institutions are too powerful, authoritative, and strong. Our problem is weak communities, made ever more impotent by our strong service systems.

Those relationships formed by consent and manifested as care are the center of community. It is this consenting care that is the essence of our role as citizens. And it is the ability of citizens to care that creates strong communities and able democracies.

The most significant development transforming America . . .

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