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Richard Sennett

Richard Sennett

Sociologist (b.1943)
Richard Sennett
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Sociologist (b.1943)
Is Critic Sociologist Historian Writer Musician Literary critic Educator
From United States of America
Type Academia Literature Social science Music
Gender male
Birth 1 January 1943, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, U.S.A.
Age 78 years
Spouse: Saskia Sassen
Peoplepill ID richard-sennett
Richard Sennett
The details


Richard Sennett (born 1 January 1943) is the Centennial Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and University Professor of the Humanities at New York University. Sennett has studied social ties in cities, and the effects of urban living on individuals in the modern world.

He has been a Fellow of The Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and of the Royal Society of Literature. He is the founding director of the New York Institute for the Humanities. In 2006 Sennett was the winner of the Hegel Prize awarded by the German city of Stuttgart, in 2008 he was awarded the Gerda Henkel Prize, worth 100,000 Euros, by the Gerda Henkel Foundation of Düsseldorf, Germany, and in 2016 he received the European Essay Prize awarded by the Charles Veillon Foundation in Lausanne.

He has been married to sociologist Saskia Sassen since 1987.


Richard Sennett grew up in the Cabrini Green housing project in Chicago, in a family of Russian emigres. As a child he trained in music, studying the cello and conducting, working with Claus Adam of the Juilliard String Quartet and the conductor Pierre Monteux. When a hand injury put an end to his musical career, he entered academia. He studied under David Riesman, Erik Erikson, and Oscar Handlin at Harvard, graduating with his Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization in 1969. His intellectual life as an urbanist came into focus during the time he spent as a fellow of the Joint Center for Urban Studies of Harvard and MIT.

Sennett's scholarly writing centers on the development of cities, the nature of work in modern society, and the sociology of culture. Families Against the City, his earliest book, examines the relationship between family and work in 19th-century Chicago. A subsequent quartet of books explores urban life more largely: The Uses of Disorder, an essay on identity formation in cities; The Fall of Public Man, a history of public culture and public space, particularly in London, Paris, and New York in the 18th and 19th Centuries; The Conscience of the Eye, a study of how Renaissance urban design passed into modern city planning, and Flesh and Stone, an overview of the design of cities from ancient to modern times.

Another quartet of books is devoted to labor. The Hidden Injuries of Class is a study of class consciousness among working-class families in Boston; The Corrosion of Character explores how new forms of work are changing our communal and personal experience; Respect probes the relation of work and reforms of the welfare system; and The Culture of the New Capitalism provides an overview of these changes. Authority is an essay in political theory; it addresses the tools of interpretation by which we recast raw power into either legitimate or illegitimate authority.

Sennett currently is working on a project called 'Homo Faber,' exploring material ways of making culture. The first book in this series is The Craftsman, published in 2008; subsequent volumes are Together: The Rituals, Pleasures, and Politics of Cooperation, published in 2012, and a future volume on the making of the urban environment.

In the public realm, Sennett founded, and directed for a decade, the New York Institute of the Humanities at New York University. Sennett then chaired a United Nations commission on urban development and design - citation needed as no evidence. As president of the American Council on Work, Sennett led a forum, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, for researchers trying to understand the changing pattern of American labor. Citation needed as appears there is no such thing as the 'American Council on Work'. Most recently he helped create, and has chaired, the LSE Cities Programme at the London School of Economics. In 2006, he served as Chair of the jury of the Venice Biennale.

Sennett's literary hobby is writing about music, including novels with musical themes.

Selected works

  • Nineteenth Century Cities: Essays In The New Urban History, coauthor, Yale (1969)
  • Classic Essays On The Culture Of Cities, editor (1969), ISBN 0-13-135194-X
  • The Uses of Disorder: Personal Identity & City Life (1970), ISBN 0-393-30909-6
  • Families Against the City: Middle Class Homes of Industrial Chicago, 1872-1890, Harvard (1970), ISBN 0-674-29226-X
  • The Hidden Injuries of Class, with Jonathan Cobb, Knopf (1972), ISBN 0-393-31085-X
  • The Fall of Public Man, Knopf (1977), ISBN 0-14-100757-5
  • Authority (1980), ISBN 0-571-16189-8
  • The Conscience of the Eye: The design and social life of cities, Faber and Faber (1991), ISBN 0-393-30878-2
  • Flesh and Stone: The Body And The City In Western Civilization, Norton (1994), ISBN 0-393-31391-3
  • The Corrosion of Character, The Personal Consequences Of Work In the New Capitalism, Norton (1998), ISBN 0-393-31987-3
  • Respect in a World of Inequality, Penguin (2003), ISBN 0-393-32537-7
  • The Culture of the New Capitalism, Yale (2006), ISBN 0-300-11992-5
  • The Craftsman, Allen Lane (2008), ISBN 978-0-7139-9873-3
  • The Foreigner: Two Essays on Exile, Notting Hill (2011), ISBN 1-907903-08-9
  • Together: The Rituals, Pleasures, and Politics of Cooperation, Yale (2012), ISBN 0-300-11633-0


  • The Frog Who Dared to Croak (1982), ISBN 0-374-15884-3
  • An Evening of Brahms (1984)
  • Palais-Royal (1986), ISBN 0-393-31251-8

Literature on Richard Sennett

  • Dominik Skala: Urbanität als Humanität. Anthropologie und Sozialethik im Stadtdenken Richard Sennetts. Paderborn: Schoeningh (2015), ISBN 978-3-506-78394-3
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