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One Book, One Richmond

One Book, One Richmond is a campus-wide effort that encourages students, staff, faculty, and members of the Richmond community to read and discuss a selected book on a social justice issue. Events and programs on various themes found in the selected text are offered throughout the academic year and are open to all members of the UR community unless otherwise noted.

Palaces for the People by Eric Klinenberg

2020–21 Selection

The One Book, One Richmond Committee is delighted to announce that the 2020-21 book selection is Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life by Eric Klinenberg.


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 and 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, churches, and parks where crucial connections are formed. Interweaving his own research with examples from around the globe, Klinenberg shows how "social infrastructure" is helping to solve some of our most pressing societal challenges.

Eric Klinenberg is the Helen Gould Shepard Professor of Social Science and Director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University and is slated to speak on campus in February 2021.

Praise for the Book

"The aim of this sweeping work is to popularize the notion of ‘social infrastructure’—the ‘physical places and organizations that shape the way people interact’. . . . Here, drawing on research in urban planning, behavioral economics, and environmental psychology, as well as on his own fieldwork from around the world, [Eric Klinenberg] posits that a community’s resilience correlates strongly with the robustness of its social infrastructure. The numerous case studies add up to a plea for more investment in the spaces and institutions (parks, libraries, childcare centers) that foster mutual support in civic life."—The New Yorker

"Palaces for the People—the title is taken from the Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie’s description of the hundreds of libraries he funded—is essentially a calm, lucid exposition of a centuries-old idea, which is really a furious call to action."—New Statesman

"Clear-eyed . . . fascinating."—Psychology Today

Contact Us

If you have suggestions, questions, or comments about One Book, One Richmond, please contact Adrienne Piazza.