Palaces for the People

How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life
Narrated by: Rob Shapiro
Length: 8 hrs and 32 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (155 ratings)

Audible membership

$14.95 a month

Free with a 30-day trial
1 audiobook of your choice.
A monthly selection of Audible Originals.
$14.95 a month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $28.00

Buy for $28.00

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

“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)

©2018 Eric Klinenberg (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“If America appears fractured at the national level, the author suggests, it can be mended at the local one. This is an engrossing, timely, hopeful read, nothing less than a new lens through which to view the world and its current conflicts.” (Booklist, starred, review)

“At a time when polarization is weakening our democracy, Eric Klinenberg takes us on a tour of the physical spaces that bind us together and form the basis of civic life. We care about each other because we bump up against one another in a community garden or on the playground or at the library. These are not virtual experiences; they’re real ones, and they’re essential to our future. This wonderful book shows us how democracies thrive.” (Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, authors of How Democracies Die)

“Reading Palaces for the People is an amazing experience. As an architect, I know very well the importance of building civic places: concert halls, libraries, museums, universities, public parks, all places open and accessible, where people can get together and share experiences. To create good places for people is essential, and this is what I share with Klinenberg: We both believe that beauty, this kind of beauty, can save the world.” (Renzo Piano)

What listeners say about Palaces for the People

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    112
  • 4 Stars
    26
  • 3 Stars
    11
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    2
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    84
  • 4 Stars
    37
  • 3 Stars
    8
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    91
  • 4 Stars
    25
  • 3 Stars
    8
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    1

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Loved this.

A love letter to public spaces: libraries, public swimming pools, community gardens, parks, etc. that makes clear their ongoing importance for building community and changing lives. This is going to be an important book. Really well read by Rob Shapiro.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

We must act now !

I am inspired to work for our organization to focus on becoming more effective in promoting the environment where sociol infrastructure is created.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

So good

I work in the field of parks and public space and this is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Or actually listen to.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Essential reading

This book should be required reading for all who wish to improve people’s lives, but especially for design professionals and policy makers.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • K
  • 04-11-19

Okayyy

This read is pretty conservative about a progressive subject matter and reads like a scientific thesis. A bit boring and I thought it would be a little bit more progressive. I found out about the book on the 99% invisible podcast. The episode seemed much more progressive unlike this book but the host probably balanced out the views of the writer. The read honestly was way too long, repetitive and just dragged on much longer than it should have. Even though it is a generic read, there are important ideas that I have left with.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great stories to illustrate the author's points

Well supported and researched. Kept me engaged and wanting more. A great introduction to the importance of infrastructure in placemaking.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

A preachy homage to progressivism

While the observations made by Mr. klinenberg are not without their merits he completely ignores about half the US population and their more traditional social makeup to center around purely progressive communities throughout America. Everyone and everywhere he chooses to interact with are of a progressive bent, even the one and only faith based community he bothers to mention. All the schools, hospitals, parks, and libraries either founded or maintained by religious communities are beneath his notice. The discourse comes back to global warming and social justice in a way that pollutes the rest of this work, and unsurprisingly the only solution offered in the conclusion is an expanded state intervention. Carnegie's nigh inescapable mention paints him as an uncomplicated capitalist pig. The creation of a new buzzword for a concept as least as old as the synagogue does not merit these numerous oversights.

2 people found this helpful