I think what I and most other sociologists of religion wrote in the 1960s about secularization was a mistake. Our underlying argument was that secularization and modernity go hand in hand. With more modernization comes more secularization.
I’m sure Putnam is right that there’s been a decline in certain kinds of organizations like bowling leagues. But people participate in communities in other ways.
Even if one is interested only in one’s own society, which is one’s prerogative, one can understand that society much better by comparing it with others.
When certain branches of the economy become obsolete, as in the case of the steel industry, not only do jobs disappear, which is obviously a terrible social hardship, but certain cultures also disappear.
So I think one can say on empirical grounds – not because of some philosophical principle – that you can’t have democracy unless you have a market economy.
There is a continuum of values between the churches and the general community. What distinguishes the handling of these values in the churches is mainly the heavier dosage of religious vocabulary involved.
In a market economy, however, the individual has some possibility of escaping from the power of the state.
If you say simply that pressures toward democracy are created by the market, I would say yes.
If the cultural elite has its way, the U.S. will be much more like Europe.
It has been true in Western societies and it seems to be true elsewhere that you do not find democratic systems apart from capitalism, or apart from a market economy, if you prefer that term.