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.
Eric Klinenberg, Professor of Sociology, New York University
Bruce Robbins, Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University
Shamus Khan, Professor of Sociology, Columbia University
Kate Orff, Associate Professor & Director, Urban Design Program, Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
Organized by Sharon Marcus. Co-sponsored with Columbia University’s Heyman Center for the Humanities, Columbia University Libraries, Department of English and Comparative Language, Department of Sociology, The Urban Design Program, and Center for Spatial Research.