Social and Civic Engagement: Building Community or “Bowling Alone”?


  • Durr e Nayab Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, Islamabad



Would Pakistan be experiencing the kind of crises—social, political, economic and one of identity — that it is currently facing, if the country had better social and civic engagement? Would our democracy be more robust with more engagement by the community? These are rather complex questions to give a definitive answer to, but we have examples where extraordinary levels of people’s engagement have helped in developing a healthy community, and by implication a more vibrant democracy. It is premised that strong interpersonal sociability and associational life can create opportunities for people, foster a sense of efficacy, and constrain capture by any interest group.

Are people in Pakistan socially engaged or are they “bowling alone”? Bowling alone is an idea given by Putnam (2000) in his study on the changing American behaviour over the decades. Putnam believed that Americans were becoming increasingly individualistic and disconnected from social structures—that is structures like clubs, associations, organisations, or bowling leagues. To him, more and more Americans were preferring to bowl alone instead of with others or in leagues.

Communities develop when there are opportunities for social and civic engagement to emerge. In the PIDE-BASICS Survey, we asked people if they were members of any club or organisation, and if they did any volunteer work. In case they were, we asked them about the nature of the club/organisation, and the kind of volunteerism they did. Based on this information, the current Note will see the trends for social and civic engagement for the four provinces and the three territories, and across regions, sex, age, and education and income levels.




How to Cite

e Nayab, D. (2023). Social and Civic Engagement: Building Community or “Bowling Alone”?. The Pakistan Development Review, 62(2), pp.301–308.