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Palaces for the people : how social infrastructure can help fight inequality, polarization, and the decline of civic life
2018
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Publishers Weekly Reviews

Sociologist Klinenberg (coauthor of Modern Romance) presents an illuminating examination of "social infrastructure," the physical spaces and organizations that shape the way people interact. Touring libraries, playgrounds, churches, barbershops, cafés, athletic fields, and community gardens, Klinenberg identifies the ways such spaces help prevent crime, reduce addiction rates, contribute to economic growth, and even ameliorate problems caused by climate change. He visits geothermal pools in Iceland, open to the public day and night, which provide a place for people to commingle despite the frigid weather; the Metropolitan Oval soccer complex in Queens, N.Y., where for the past 90 years local youth of all backgrounds have played sports; and the floating schools and libraries located on the riverbanks around Bangladesh that host courses on literacy, sustainable agriculture, and disaster survival, while also providing shelter to citizens unable to afford conventional protection from the region's catastrophic floods. Klinenberg's observations are effortlessly discursive and always cogent, whether covering the ways playgrounds instill youth with civic values or a Chicago architect's plans to transform a police station into a community center. He persuasively illustrates the vital role these spaces play in repairing civic life "in an era characterized by urgent social needs and gridlock stemming from political polarization." (Sept.)

Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

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The co-author of the best-selling Modern Romance explains how the resilience of communities can be found not in shared values but in such shared spaces as libraries, child-care centers and gardens that enable life-transforming human connections. - (Baker & Taylor)

"An eminent sociologist--and coauthor, with Aziz Ansari, of the #1 New York Times bestseller Modern Romance--makes the provocative case that the future of democratic societies rests not only on shared values but also on shared "social infrastructure": the libraries, childcare centers, bookstores, coffee shops, pools, and parks that promote crucial, sometimes life-saving connections between people who might otherwise fail to find common cause"-- - (Baker & Taylor)

"The future of democratic societies rests not only on shared values but also on shared "social infrastructure": the libraries, childcare centers, bookstores, coffee shops, pools, and parks that promote crucial, sometimes life-saving connections between people who might otherwise fail to find common cause"-- - (Baker & Taylor)

Explains how the resilience of communities can be found not only in shared values but in such shared spaces as libraries, child-care centers, and gardens that enable life-transforming human connections. - (Baker & Taylor)

“A comprehensive, entertaining, and compelling argument for how rebuilding social infrastructure can help heal divisions in our society and move us forward.”—Jon Stewart

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR • “Engaging.”—Mayor Pete Buttigieg, The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)

We are living in a time of deep divisions. Americans are sorting themselves along racial, religious, and cultural lines, leading to a level of polarization that the country hasn’t seen since the Civil War. Pundits and politicians are calling for us to come together and find common purpose. But how, exactly, can this be done?

In Palaces for the People, Eric Klinenberg suggests a way forward. He believes that the future of democratic societies rests not simply on shared values but on shared spaces: the libraries, childcare centers, churches, and parks where crucial connections are formed. Interweaving his own research with examples from around the globe, Klinenberg shows how “social infrastructure” is helping to solve some of our most pressing societal challenges. Richly reported and ultimately uplifting, Palaces for the People offers a blueprint for bridging our seemingly unbridgeable divides.

LONGLISTED FOR THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE IN NONFICTION

“Just brilliant!”—Roman Mars, 99% Invisible

“The aim of this sweeping work is to popularize the notion of ‘social infrastructure'—the ‘physical places and organizations that shape the way people interact'. . . . Here, drawing on research in urban planning, behavioral economics, and environmental psychology, as well as on his own fieldwork from around the world, [Eric Klinenberg] posits that a community’s resilience correlates strongly with the robustness of its social infrastructure. The numerous case studies add up to a plea for more investment in the spaces and institutions (parks, libraries, childcare centers) that foster mutual support in civic life.”The New Yorker

Palaces for the People—the title is taken from the Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie’s description of the hundreds of libraries he funded—is essentially a calm, lucid exposition of a centuries-old idea, which is really a furious call to action.”New Statesman

“Clear-eyed . . . fascinating.”—Psychology Today - (Random House, Inc.)

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