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The future of democratic societies rests not simply on shared values but on shared spaces: the libraries, childcare centers, and parks where crucial connections are formed. Drawing on extensive sociological research, Klinenberg claims that “social infrastructure,” which he defines as the physical spaces that shape our interactions, plays an essential but unappreciated role in modern societies, generating inequalities in health, education, crime, climate vulnerability, and social networks. In this lecture, he shares key findings from his landmark book, Palaces for the People, and offers a blueprint for rebuilding in this moment of crisis.
Eric Klinenberg is Helen Gould Shepard Professor of Social Science and Director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. He is the author of Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life (Crown, 2018), Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone (The Penguin Press, 2012), Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America’s Media (Metropolitan Books, 2007), and Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago (University of Chicago Press, 2002), as well as the editor of Cultural Production in a Digital Age, co-editor of Antidemocracy in America (Columbia University Press, 2019), and co-author, with Aziz Ansari, of the New York Times #1 bestseller Modern Romance (The Penguin Press, 2015). His scholarly work has been published in journals including the American Sociological Review, Theory and Society, and Ethnography, and he has contributed to The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, and This American Life. He's currently working on a new book, 2020: A Social Autopsy, to be published by Alfred A. Knopf.
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