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An eminent sociologist and bestselling 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.



About the Author

Eric Klinenberg

Eric Klinenberg is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University, and editor of the journal Public Culture. He's the co-author, with Aziz Ansari, of the New York Times bestseller, Modern Romance.

Klinenberg's previous books include Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, also published by the Penguin Press. Time Magazine featured Going Solo as the #1 Idea That is Changing Your Life in the March 12, 2012 cover story. Vanity Fair called it "trailblazing." Psychology Today called it "so important that it is likely to become both a popular read and a social science classic." The New Yorker argued that the book "suggests that our usual perceptions about life alone get things backward." And the Washington Post explained that "Going Solo is really about living better together--for all of us, single or not."

Klinenberg's first book, Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago, won six scholarly and literary prizes (and was a Favorite Book selection by the Chicago Tribune) , and was praised as "a dense and subtle portrait" (Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker) ; "a remarkable, riveting account" (American Prospect) ; "intellectually exciting" (Amartya Sen) ; and a "trenchant, persuasive tale of slow murder by public policy" (Salon) .

Professor Klinenberg's second book, Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America's Media, was called "politically passionate and intellectually serious," (Columbia Journalism Review) , "a must-read for those who wonder what happened to good radio, accurate reporting and autonomous public interest" (Time Out New York) , and "eye-opening ...required reading for conscientious citizens" (Kirkus) . Since its publication, he has testified before the Federal Communications Commission and briefed the U.S. Congress on his findings.

In addition to his books and scholarly articles, Klinenberg has contributed to popular publications such as The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, Time Magazine, Fortune, The London Review of Books, The Nation, The Washington Post, Mother Jones, The Guardian, Le Monde Diplomatique, Slate, and the radio program This American Life.



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