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NewSouth Publishing, 2011 - History - 192 pages
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A forensic examination of Australian life, this insightful book suggests that contemporary society has lost touch with its communities and its people. Written from an economist's perspective and based on organizational membership records and surveys, it presents the reasons why the social fabric has begun to fray and outlines the necessary steps to create a better civic and personal life. Distilling various aspects of Australian routine--including religion, sport, and employment--this book reveals what is being lost and how to get it back.

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Disconnected (2010) by Andrew Leigh is a crisp, well researched, well written book by the member for Fraser. Leigh was a professor of economics. He also worked as a researched on Robert Putnam’s book Bowling Alone that studied the measurable decline of social capital in the US. Disconnected does the same for Australia.
Leigh looks at joining general organisation like the Lions club, membership of churches, membership of political parties, how people socialise in the workforce, participation in sport and cultural activities, how well people know their neighbours and how good their friends are and studies of trust and honesty. Each chapter looks at quantifiable measures of how people’s participation in these activities have changed over time.
Leigh then looks at how to explain the trends. Here increased working hours, increased female participation in the workforce, longer commutes, television and diversity are calmly examined. He goes on to state what someone can do to counter these trends.
The book is a credit to its author. It’s a calm, non-political, wonkish book on an important subject. It shows what a real academic can write to contribute ideas based on solid data into social debate. Leigh even includes some subtle bipartisanship in that the first person he credits with helping him is Andrew Norton. The book is definitely the best book on policy I’ve read by an Australian politician.

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About the author (2011)

Andrew Leigh is an economics professor at Australian National University and a former lawyer, political advisor, and think-tank researcher. He has written two books and over fifty journal articles and is a regular columnist for the Australian Financial Review.

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