How public libraries and playgrounds can restore civility to American society (episode 432)


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Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library won some national recognition this month, making Reader's Digest's list of the 10 "nicest places" in America. If Baltimoreans spent even more time in the Pratt branches -- and, even better, if people from the suburbs joined them there -- we might have a more civil, less polarized country. That's an argument sociologist Eric Klinenberg has been pushing -- invest in the country's "social infrastructure," he says, to increase the opportunities for human interaction and the possibilities for a healthier, less isolated and angry society. Klinenberg, who visited Johns Hopkins University this week, is the author of "Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life." He is professor of sociology at New York University.

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