Best Selling Books by Richard Sennett

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The Corrosion of Character: The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism

release date: Feb 07, 2011
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The Corrosion of Character: The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism
A Business Week Best Book of the Year.... "A devastating and wholly necessary book."—Studs Terkel, author of Working In The Corrosion of Character, Richard Sennett, "among the country's most distinguished thinkers . . . has concentrated into 176 pages a profoundly affecting argument" (Business Week) that draws on interviews with dismissed IBM executives, bakers, a bartender turned advertising executive, and many others to call into question the terms of our new economy. In his 1972 classic, The Hidden Injuries of Class (written with Jonathan Cobb), Sennett interviewed a man he called Enrico, a hardworking janitor whose life was structured by a union pay schedule and given meaning by his sacrifices for the future. In this new book-a #1 bestseller in Germany-Sennett explores the contemporary scene characterized by Enrico's son, Rico, whose life is more materially successful, yet whose work lacks long-term commitments or loyalties. Distinguished by Sennett's "combination of broad historical and literary learning and a reporter's willingness to walk into a store or factory [and] strike up a conversation" (New York Times Book Review), this book "challenges the reader to decide whether the flexibility of modern capitalism . . . is merely a fresh form of oppression" (Publishers Weekly, starred review). Praise for The Corrosion of Character: "A benchmark for our time."—Daniel Bell "[A]n incredibly insightful book."—William Julius Wilson "[A] remarkable synthesis of acute empirical observation and serious moral reflection."—Richard Rorty "[Sennett] offers abundant fresh insights . . . illuminated by his concern with people's struggle to give meaning to their lives."—[Memphis] Commercial Appeal

Respect in a World of Inequality

release date: Feb 07, 2011
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Respect in a World of Inequality
The powerful case for a society of mutual respect. As various forms of social welfare were dismantled though the last decade of the twentieth century, many thinkers argued that human well-being was best served by a focus on potential, not need. Richard Sennett thinks differently. In this dazzling blend of personal memoir and reflective scholarship, he addresses need and social responsibility across the gulf of inequality. In the uncertain world of "flexible" social relationships, all are troubled by issues of respect: whether it is an employee stuck with insensitive management, a social worker trying to aid a resentful client, or a virtuoso artist and an accompanist aiming for a perfect duet. Opening with a memoir of growing up in Chicago's infamous Cabrini Green housing project, Richard Sennett looks at three factors that undermine mutual respect: unequal ability, adult dependency, and degrading forms of compassion. In contrast to current welfare "reforms," Sennett proposes a welfare system based on respect for those in need. He explores how self-worth can be nurtured in an unequal society (for example, through dedication to craft); how self-esteem must be balanced with feeling for others; and how mutual respect can forge bonds across the divide of inequality. Where erasing inequality was once the goal of social radicals, Sennett seeks a more humane meritocracy: a society that, while accepting inequalities of talent, seeks to nurture the best in all its members and to connect them strongly to one another.

The Craftsman

release date: Feb 05, 2009
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The Craftsman
Why do people work hard, and take pride in what they do? This book, a philosophically-minded enquiry into practical activity of many different kinds past and present, is about what happens when people try to do a good job. It asks us to think about the true meaning of skill in the 'skills society' and argues that pure competition is a poor way to achieve quality work. Sennett suggests, instead, that there is a craftsman in every human being, which can sometimes be enormously motivating and inspiring - and can also in other circumstances make individuals obsessive and frustrated. The Craftsman shows how history has drawn fault-lines between craftsman and artist, maker and user, technique and expression, practice and theory, and that individuals' pride in their work, as well as modern society in general, suffers from these historical divisions. But the past lives of crafts and craftsmen show us ways of working (using tools, acquiring skills, thinking about materials) which provide rewarding alternative ways for people to utilise their talents. We need to recognise this if motivations are to be understood and lives made as fulfilling as possible.

Flesh and Stone: The Body and the City in Western Civilization

release date: Mar 17, 1996
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Flesh and Stone: The Body and the City in Western Civilization
A description of urban life from a body sense perspective spans 2,500 years through ancient Athens, Hadrian's Rome, medieval and revolutionary Paris, Renaissance Venice, Edwardian London, and contemporary New York

Authority

release date: Jun 17, 1993
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Authority
This book is a study of both how we experience authority and how we might experience it differently. Sennett explores the bonds that rebellion against authority paradoxically establishes, showing how this paradox has been in the making since the French Revolution and how today it expresses itself in offices, in factories, and in government as well as in the family. Drawing on examples from psychology, sociology, and literature, he eloquently projects how we might reinvigorate the role of authority according to good and rational ideals. A master of the interplay between politics and psychology, Richard Sennett here analyzes the nature, the role, and the faces of authority—authority in personal life, in the public realm, authority as an idea. Why have we become so afraid of authority? What real needs for authority do we have—for guidance, stability, images of strength? What happens when our fear of and our need for authority come into conflict? In exploring these questions, Sennett examines traditional forms of authority (The father’s in the family, the lord’s in society) and the dominant contemporary styles of authority, and he shows how our needs for, no less than our resistance to, authority have been shaped by history and culture, as well as by psychological disposition.

Uses of Disorder

release date: Sep 12, 2012
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Uses of Disorder
The excitement of the brilliantly innovative book is that it challenges the reader to revise his concept of order—and to consider the seemingly disparate problems of the individual personality and the urban society in the light of a fresh, unified framework that has the shock of new truth. Drawing on recent ideas in psychology, sociology, and urban history, Sennett shows how the excessively “ordered” community freezes adults—both the fierce young idealists and their security-oriented parents—into rigid attitudes that originate in adolescence and stifle further personal growth. He explains how the accepted ideal of order generates patterns of behavior among the urban middle cases that are stultifying, narrow, and violence-prone. He demonstrates that most city planning has been conducted with the same rigidity, and shows, in specific and human terms, why that approach has not solved and cannot solve our cities problems. The Uses of Disorder is not only a critique of the ways in which the affluent city has failed as a place where the individual—even the affluent individual—can grow. It is also an exploration of new modes of urban organization through which city life can become richer and more life-affirming. The author proposes and projects in concrete terms (including a new use of the police) a functioning city that can incorporate anarchy, diversity, and creative disorder to bring into being adults who can openly respond to and dealt with the challenges of life. Thus, Richard Sennett, more aware of the nature of human nature than most Utopians of the past, sees progress in the creation of new urban relationships that will protect, not stability, but diversity and change. Out of his books, with its free and imaginative insights grounded in a strong sense of present-day realities, emerges the vision of a fully affluent and libertarian society—an arena that will welcome a rich variety of individuals, and accept the conflict that stem from such variety as not merely inevitable but life-giving.

Building and Dwelling

release date: Apr 10, 2018
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Building and Dwelling
A preeminent thinker redefines the meaning of city life and charts a way forward Building and Dwelling is the definitive statement on cities by the renowned public intellectual Richard Sennett. In this sweeping work, he traces the anguished relation between how cities are built and how people live in them, from ancient Athens to twenty-first-century Shanghai. He shows how Paris, Barcelona, and New York City assumed their modern forms; rethinks the reputations of Jane Jacobs, Lewis Mumford, and others; and takes us on a tour of emblematic contemporary locations, from the backstreets of Medellín, Colombia, to the Google headquarters in Manhattan. Through it all, he laments that the “closed city”—segregated, regimented, and controlled—has spread from the global North to the exploding urban agglomerations of the global South. As an alternative, he argues for the “open city,” where citizens actively hash out their differences and planners experiment with urban forms that make it easier for residents to cope. Rich with arguments that speak directly to our moment—a time when more humans live in urban spaces than ever before—Building and Dwelling draws on Sennett’s deep learning and intimate engagement with city life to form a bold and original vision for the future of cities.

Designing Disorder

release date: Jan 01, 2020
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Designing Disorder
In 1970, Richard Sennett published the groundbreaking The Uses of Disorder, arguing that the ideal of a planned and ordered city was flawed. Fifty years later, Sennett returns to these still fertile ideas and, alongside campaigner and architect Pablo Sendra, sets out an agenda for the design and ethics of the Open City. The public spaces of our cities are under siege from planners, privatisation and increased surveillance. Our streets are becoming ever more lifeless and ordered. What is to be done? Can disorder be designed? In this provocative essay Sendra and Sennett propose a reorganisation of how we think and plan the social life of our cities. 'Infrastructures of disorder' combine architecture, politics, urban planning and activism in order to develop places that nurture rather than stifle, bring together rather than divide up, remain open to change rather than closed off.

The Culture of the New Capitalism

release date: Jan 01, 2007
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The Culture of the New Capitalism
About the industrial nature of capitalism.

The Fall of Public Man

release date: Jan 30, 2003
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The Fall of Public Man
Richard Sennett's The Fall of Public Man examines the growing imbalance between private and public experience, and asks what can bring us to reconnect with our communities. Are we now so self-absorbed that we take little interest in the world beyond our own lives? Or has public life left no place for individuals to participate? Tracing the changing nature of urban society from the eighteenth century to the world we now live in, and the decline of involvement in political life in recent decades, Richard Sennett discusses the causes of our social withdrawal. His landmark study of the imbalance of modern civilization provides a fascinating perspective on the relationship between public life and the cult of the individual. 'Brilliant ... One admires the breadth of Professor Sennett's erudition, the reach of his historical imagination, the doggedness of his analysis ... Buy this book and read it. Ironically, it may provide a key to happiness' Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times 'A powerful argument for a more formal public culture and a swipe against the rise of a self-indulgent counter-culture' Melissa Benn, Guardian 'A provocative book ... Sennett brings us to an undeniably recognizable place, the contemporary urban scene' Richard Todd, Atlantic Monthly Richard Sennett's previous books include The Fall of Public Man, The Corrosion of Character, Flesh and Stone and Respect. He was founder director of the New York Institute for the Humanities, and is now University Professor at New York University and Academic Governor and Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics.
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