This competition is closed. The winners selected strictly by the random number generator at RANDOM.ORG are #31 Jeff Tyson,  Friends of Alieu, and #33 Charles Richardson, Scarlateen.


Now that the political drama over who will lead the Government is over and we, the Australian people, are back at centre stage where we should properly be, it’s time to get down to some serious policy action.

Social justice is an important part of that agenda, so I’m pleased to say that thanks to New South Books, I have two copies of Andrew Leigh‘s latest book, Disconnected, to give away.

Information on how to enter the giveaway is at the bottom of this post.

This is a book about declining social capital in Australia. Dr Leigh guides the reader through the reasons that our social fabric has begun to fray, and outlines steps to creating a better civic and personal life. According to the publisher’s blurb:

In this forensic examination of how we live, Andrew Leigh, one of our most exciting young thinkers, rips though Australian life and asks whether we are tightly-knit and looking out for each other, or are we all disconnected? Organisational membership records and surveys show that our society is shifting rapidly. These days, chances are you never quite get around to talking to your neighbours, or you’re always too busy to give blood.

Andrew Leigh holds a PhD from Harvard University where he worked closely with renowned social capital researcher and author of Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam. He was a Professor in the Research School of Economics at the Australian National University up until 2010, when he entered Federal Parliament as the member for Fraser (ACT), representing the ALP.

He says that while we were once a nation of joiners, now we’ve become increasingly disconnected from one another:

Organisational membership is down. We are less likely to attend church. Political parties and unions are bleeding members. Sporting participation and cultural attendance are down. Volunteering is most likely below its post-war peak, though it did record a rise in the late 1990s. We have fewer friends and are less connected with our neighbours than in the mid-1980s. Other measures have flatlined, but few have risen.

Here’s a review by Adele Horin in the Sydney Morning Herald and here’s a column in the Financial Review by Dr Leigh summarising how raising social capital can not only be good for our society but also our economy. And here’s a review by Leanne Weymans published in M/C Review. She says the book would make interesting reading for anyone

who feels even a little disillusioned or overwhelmed by a world that increasingly involves a screen to communicate, entertain or interact with others……It confirms some of the sneaking suspicions I have about the world my children will grow up in, which is both frightening and fascinating. Disconnected also provides me with the awareness and tools on ways I can work at ‘reconnecting’ with my community and while I mourn the loss of ‘idyllic’ childhood, I wonder what the next generation will miss.

To be in the running to win one of the two copies on offer, all you have to do is nominate your favourite/preferred charity or Not-For-Profit, either in Australia or elsewhere. To enter, just make your nomination in the Comments section below. Entries close midday Saturday, March 10, midnight, Tuesday 13 March 2012. One entry per person and I can only post within Australia (NOTE of 9 March 2012: Crikey’s web site will be upgraded over the weekend of 10/11 March and will not accept comments, so I have extended the date for the comp to 13 March).

As always, the quality of your nomination has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on whether or not you’ll win. The winner will be determined at random. You just can’t be in the running unless you make a nomination. Of course, a little explanation would be appreciated, but isn’t necessary. If there’s no NFP that you’re prepared to endorse, nominating the Please Don’t Talk About Kevin Foundation is acceptable.