Employee Blogs and Social Capital: A Time for State Legislative Action


This Article addresses the issue of employee blogging and the interplay between such blogging and the asserted recent decline in American “social capital.” Relying on the recent work of Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam, we argue that blogging by employees can play an important role in helping reverse the decline in social capital but that current legal structures impede that goal. The Article proposes state legislative reforms to ameliorate this situation. We begin Part I by developing the argument that there is an important relationship between employee blogging and American social capital. Part II presents a review of blogs and the blogging phenomena. Part III discusses blogs in the context of Professor Putnam’s path-breaking work, and examines the special place employment and the workplace have in the social capital story. Part IV more specifically analyzes the role blogs play as generators of social capital, particularly in the employment context. Part V looks at the protections afforded employee bloggers under the National Labor Relations Act. Part VI then examines the issue in the context of both state common and statutory law. In Part VII we review various options for legal reform in the area, and ultimately recommend as the best approach specific state legislative action, i.e., the amendment of state statutes protecting off-duty tobacco usage to also protect off-duty employee blogging. Part VIII concludes our work.



Date of this Version

March 2006