Sunday, October 24, 2010

Subway Transit: Increase or Decrease in social capital?

     I spent six weeks of my summer living in New York City by myself. I was staying in Manhattan, but frequently I was all over the city, visiting friends in Brooklyn, seeing the Chelsea Square Market, and visiting colleges such as New York University and Fordham University. Consequently, I had to learn to travel via the subway in order to get from place to place. My first subway experience was with Sara Seger, who had been traveling by the metro most of her life. As we squeezed through the crowded subway we finally found a place to stand. The doors closed and the subway began with a jolt, and then with full speed. Unfortunately Sara forgot to mention to me to hold onto the metal bars above us, and as the subway started, I fell backward onto a man's foot, who yelled at me as I scrambled to stand unnoticed. He gave me dirty looks for the rest of the subway ride as I tried to ignore him. Thankfully he got off on the next stop, but I was sure to keep all body parts, including my eyes to myself for the rest of the summer while on the subway.
                                                          Sara and I In the Big Apple
    From my experience this summer on the subway, I am sure that there is no way to increase social capital within the metro. Especially in a large city, there are too many people to connect on a level necessary to increase social capital. Even if it was safe to interact with other people, the subway stops usually aren't long enough to engage into any kind conversation.Whenever I was on a subway by myself, I always had my iPod on and read a book simultaneously, in order to prevent any interaction with strangers. If anything, riding the subway decreases social capital.


  1. You guys made a fantastic site. You have really creative ideas for experiments and your analysis is thoughtful and insightful. I appreciate the time and thought that you put into your work. I wonder what UNCSA would be like if, like Guatemala, none of us had phones. I wonder what subway rides would be like if no one on the subway had phones.

    I think the highlight for me was the fruit protest. I hope you guys go somewhere with this. Keep me updated on your interesting work. Great job!!!! Hollah!

  2. So I think your lab ideas were really unique in the way they all connected to social capital yet you wouldn't think of fruit and metros as community clinchers - your project made it clear that our social capital deals with our entire life.

  3. This is totally accurate! When I'm in DC or NYC, I ride buses or subways a lot and there is really no reason to make contact with the other people on the bus. When I've seen someone try to talk with other people on the metro, the people get really creeped out because it is not really a "norm" of how we live.

  4. I agree completely, whenever i'm in citys i'm always in my own world and trying not to look at people. It s always kindof akward when you make eye contact with people because you don't know if you should smile or ignore them or what not.

  5. I agree. I used to ride the Metro in DC all the time when I was younger. I was always afraid to make eye contact with anyone and just tried to keep to myself. Whenever I accidentally saw someone I just kept my head down. Even when the train is packed and you have to sit next to a stranger its bizarre that we make no attempt at communication with them.