Saturday, September 15, 2018

Eric Klinenberg argues for more social capital as a strategy for meeting disasters, in "Palaces of the People"



Today Smerconish on CNN interviewed Eric Klinenberg, sociology professor at NYU, about his new book “Palaces of the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life”. Random House.  At first glance, this sounds like a reissue of Charles Murray’s call for more social capital in his book “Coming Apart” (March 14, 2012).


The title seems somewhat self-explanatory. Klinenberg argues that we indeed neglected out infrastructure, ranging from flood protection to climate change to the electric grids, but we have also neglected setting up public spaces – he talks about libraries, playgrounds, parks (including national parks).  I don’t know from the interview how much he gets into the psychological dynamics of increasing social capital in a location among neighbors.  It’s more than condo Christmas parties of block parties.

Klinenberg does argue that social capital is a critical aspect of resilience for recovering from natural disasters and possibility form discouraging enemy terrorism.

Klinenebrg has also authored “Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone”. Penguin, 2013.  And the summarizes say his account of this development (of which I am a part) are surprisingly positive. Paul Rosenfels knew that.  


Picture: North Carolina, in area affected by Matthew 

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