Senator Launches ‘Social Capital Project’

Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) is concerned about the trajectory of our nation, and he thinks many other Americans are as well. At a recent hearing of the bicameral Joint Economic Committee, Vice Chairman Lee said that this worry is not simply “economic anxiety.” He believes citizens feel “our social fabric is fraying.”

To investigate this feeling, Lee launched the Social Capital Project, which will study indicators of our “associational life.” The project’s website explains:

“Associational life” is our shorthand for the web of social relationships through which we pursue joint endeavors—namely, our families, our communities, our workplaces, and our religious congregations. These institutions are critical to forming our character and capacities, providing us with meaning and purpose, and for addressing the many challenges we face.

At the JEC hearing, Sen. Lee said that what may seem to be economic problems are actual indications of the decline of our associational life. He cited family fragility affecting upward mobility and decreased trust among fellow community members harming businesses that require confidence in people and institutions before taking risks.

He concluded, “As we face today’s economic challenges, policymakers should ask how we can empower civil society, and what government should or should not do to thicken the middle layers between the individual and the state.”

  • The full JEC hearing on “What We Do Together: The State of Social Capital in America Today” is available here.
  • Find a relevant article by Sen. Lee in the Daily Signal here.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: May 26, 2017

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