Abstract: Robert Putnam’s influential article ‘Bowling alone: America’s declining social capital’ puts forward a number of possible factors to explain the decline of civil society in the USA. Many of these same forces are also at work in America’s erstwhile colony in Asia, the Philippines, where almost the opposite outcome is true if one can measure such things as social capital by the activity of formal and informal associations and networks devoted to mutual assistance. Unlike Americans, however, Filipinos are exposed to a much higher degree of everyday risk. This article traces the evolution of mutual benefit associations and networks and suggests that it is in precisely those geographical regions most exposed to personal misfortune and community danger that they proliferate most readily.
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