Americans are in a crisis of loneliness. Factors like the pandemic and our deep political divides have kept us isolated, while social media and media echo chambers sort many of us into silos. There isn’t a single reason why this loneliness crisis exists, but there is a way to recover: Social infrastructure.
Eric Klinenberg declares that social infrastructure – such as public libraries, churches, public schools and other “palaces for the people” – can help fight issues such as inequality, polarization, and even climate change. This idea of supporting and enhancing social infrastructure is discussed in his 2018 book, Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life (the title being “borrowed” from Andrew Carnegie who stated public libraries are “palaces for the people”). The conversation around community spaces such as churches, senior centers, public schools and libraries representing the bulk of social infrastructure continues as we enter the “Great Reknitting.” Not to put too fine a point on it, but in order to restore civil society, we need to start with libraries.
This book list is meant to support CivicCLP’s Speaker Series, Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life with Eric Klinenberg. Click here to register for this event.
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