From Do-It-Yourself Democracy: The Rise of the Public Engagement Industry by Caroline Lee pg 36-37. Her book illustrates how public engagement professionals have a vested interest in this narrative, offering to facilitate participation in order to address this civic withdrawal:
The late 1980s and early 1990s were a time of concern for the decline of citizen engagement in public life, as baby boomers and their children withdrew into their homes and away from the collective rituals of community life in favor of cable television programming. Americans worked longer hours, women entered the workforce in even greater numbers, and distractions within the home multiplied. 14 American Legion watering holes and citywide garden clubs—organizations lovingly cared for by the Greatest Generation—dried out and withered as their memberships aged. Robert Putnam’s swan song for the lost bowling leagues of America gripped cultural commentators and community activists with a persuasive narrative of the civic decline they were witnessing. 15 Putnam argued that because people were no longer bonding within small groups, they no longer felt invested in the larger social enterprise of community building. Polling places, public hearings, and PTA meetings had emptied. Most pressingly, people seemed to have lost their aptitude for or interest in talking to people unlike themselves. Collective frustration with contentious public hearings and endless litigation had reached new heights.