I have not read Robert Putnam's book, Bowling Alone, but I believe he addresses this issue. Based on a class presentation I heard, I think he identified the increase of "features" in people's homes as one of the causes of decreasing social engagement (better quality televisions, video game systems, internet, etc.). That may be one cause. I don't know if rural, suburban, or urban setting is a factor. I would also guess that geographical distance between members of a community makes a difference too. I'm sure there are lots of factors. Regardless, I have no idea how to go about building community among people who would just as soon stay home and do their own thing. And the hardest part is that I find myself struggling to even want to build community as opposed to staying home and doing my own thing.
Has there actually been a societal shift? Are young people less likely to engage in community? If they are engaged, are they less likely to genuinely connect? If this is really the direction our culture is heading, how do we address it?
I just looked on Amazon and noticed that Robert Putnam wrote another book called Better Together: Restoring the American Community. Possibly, I should read that.