• Palaces for the People

  • How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life
  • By: Eric Klinenberg
  • Narrated by: Rob Shapiro
  • Length: 8 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 09-11-18
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • 4 out of 5 stars (15 ratings)

Regular price: $28.00

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Publisher's Summary

A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice 

An eminent sociologist and best-selling author offers an inspiring blueprint for rebuilding our fractured society. 

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, to 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, bookstores, churches, synagogues, and parks where crucial, sometimes life-saving connections, are formed. These are places where people gather and linger, making friends across group lines and strengthening the entire community. Klinenberg calls this the “social infrastructure”: When it is strong, neighborhoods flourish; when it is neglected, as it has been in recent years, families and individuals must fend for themselves.  

Klinenberg takes us around the globe - from a floating school in Bangladesh to an arts incubator in Chicago, from a soccer pitch in Queens to an evangelical church in Houston - to show how social infrastructure is helping to solve some of our most pressing challenges: isolation, crime, education, addiction, political polarization, and even climate change. Richly reported, elegantly written, and ultimately uplifting, Palaces for the People urges us to acknowledge the crucial role these spaces play in civic life. Our social infrastructure could be the key to bridging our seemingly unbridgeable divides - and safeguarding democracy.

©2018 Eric Klinenberg (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“This fantastic book reminds us that democracy is fortified and enlivened by people coexisting together in public, and that good design and support of a wide variety of public spaces can produce those mysterious things we call community, membership, a sense of belonging, a place, maybe a polity. In an age where the push for disembodiment and never leaving the house and fearing and avoiding strangers and doing everything as fast as possible is so powerful, this book makes the case for why we want to head in the opposite direction. It’s both idealistic and, in its myriad examples, pragmatic, and delightfully readable.” (Rebecca Solnit, author of Men Explain Things to Me and A Field Guide to Getting Lost)

"Wow. A comprehensive, entertaining, and compelling argument for how rebuilding social infrastructure can help heal divisions in our society and move us forward. I can't wait for people in my ideological bubble to ignore it!" (Jon Stewart, former host of The Daily Show)

"Eric Klinenberg combines a Jane Jacobs-eye on city life with knowledge of the latest research and practical ideas to address the crucial issues of the day - class division, crime, and climate change. This is a brilliant and important book." (Arlie Hochschild, author of Strangers in Their Own Land)

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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.