As Peter Levine notes, there’s plenty of evidence that prosperous communities are better at civic engagement. What’s harder to work out is whether those communities are prosperous because they’re good conversational places – or whether the conversational habits are a consequence of prosperity.
His conclusion – one that I’d concur with based on personal observation – is that…
“…the quality–not the quantity–of civic engagement is related to whether communities can withstand economic crises and make difficult collective decisions that help them to recover.”
It seems to me that this is an important lesson for any business, any elected representative or any community activist. It’s an extension of the evidence around natural selection – that an abilty to diversify explains why some things survive and others don’t. A group of people who talk to each other in a civil way are surely better at collective action – when it’s needed?