Friends Book Club Zoom discusses “Palaces for the People” by Eric Klinenberg

The Friends of VCU Libraries Book Club has selected sociologist Eric Klinenberg’s 2018 book Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life.

The club will meet via Zoom at 2 p.m.  Sunday, May 17. The event is free and the public is invited. To gain access to the discussion, please contact Kelly Gotschalk at kjgotschalk@vcu.edu for the joining information.

Praise for Palaces for the People has been abundant:

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

“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

From the publisher’s website:
“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.”

If you require accommodations for the meeting, please contact Kelly Gotschalk at kjgotschalk@vcu.edu.