The New York Times

Public Space

PALACES FOR THE PEOPLEHow Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic LifeBy Eric Klinenberg277 pp. Crown. $28.

This time of year, my wooden desktop in the Office of the Mayor looks very similar to my computer desktop: covered in spreadsheets. It’s budget season in South Bend, Ind. — the annual reckoning. Priorities jostle against one another, and sometimes it feels as if we must choose between investing in places (fire stations, streetscapes) and investing in people (after-school programs, job training). We do some of both, of course, but the process forces us to balance two concepts of what a city is: a place and a population.

In “Palaces for the People,” Eric Klinenberg offers a new perspective on what people and places

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