Our nation’s social fabric is torn by political polarization, distrust, disinformation, exclusion, coarsened public discourse, and divisions along geographic, cultural, and tribal lines. The precarity of that social fabric has been exacerbated by stagnating social mobility, widening socioeconomic inequality, and structural inequities, often along racial, ethnic, and gender lines. Our political institutions seem incapable of responding effectively to the needs of civil society. And America’s corroding social infrastructure was at issue before the arrival of the current administration and this year’s COVID pandemic and racial justice movement; combinations of the three only underscore or amplify our social upheaval. Entering fall 2020 the collective American project, the ethic of a democratic society, and our ties to one another have become perilously fragile.
Given the weaknesses and vulnerabilities in our political and civic life, how do we spread a culture of commitment that weaves together resilient, empowered communities? How do we as a society form – or re-form – inclusive social connections that promote cohesion and a sense of common purpose and identity? This is a moment not only of crisis and urgency, but also of possibility. Join Danielle Allen, Shaylyn Romney Garrett, Eric Klinenberg, and Robert Putnam in conversation with David Brooks as they consider such questions and outline concrete actions and correctives.
Episode produced by CASBS in partnership with The American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, and Weave: The Social Fabric Project at the Aspen Institute.
The global pandemic is a crisis affecting not only public health but also governments, economies, and societies worldwide. Multiple vulnerabilities existed prior to the pandemic; the current crisis amplifies them. Indeed, the crisis disrupts virtually everything that enables us to work, learn, play, and thrive. The COVID-accelerated stress test brings countries to a dangerous moment but also presents a unique opportunity to confront challenges with needed correctives to political, economic, and social infrastructures. No institutions, behaviors, or beliefs should be exempt from reconsideration.
Launched in May 2020, in a series of themed discussions CASBS-affiliated scholars and practitioners explain what brought us to this moment and explore how to bring about realistic, durable change in service of a more prosperous, equitable, and human centered society.