Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation Paperback – 7 Feb 2013
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As challenging and demanding as cooperation is, it has been our species' secret weapon, and those of us alive today are the descendants of people who had what it takes to make it work. This thoughtful book outlines the craftsmanship we will need to ensure that it continues to do so (Mark Pagel New Scientist)
A fresh exploration of one of the oldest conundrums facing social theory, which is how cooperation between people is forged and maintained (Frank Furedi Times Higher Education)
To call this captivating writer an academic sociologist makes as much, or as little, sense as labelling Mozart a court musician ... Eclectic, ecumenical, Sennett leads us with charm and candour down his chosen routes to renovation (Boyd Tonkin The Independent)
Together is a profound mediation on how humans act as social animals, and an inspiring call for us all to try and embrace differences of tribe, religion and class (Ian Critchley Sunday Times)
The book offers an artisanal response to a post-industrial condition ... In this sense, Sennett is a true heir to John Ruskin and William Morris (Terry Eagleton Times Literary Supplement)
Richard Sennett's new book is an excellent resource to help us [work with others], and what shines through it is Sennett's own humanity. He is an excellent scholar and a very agile thinker ... this is a book that should be widely read (Kester Brewin Third Way)
Co-operation is hard because it is about learning to live with people who think differently or don't know what they think at all. Sennett wants to remind us that this is a skill, and like any skill it takes patience and practice (David Runciman The Guardian)
About the Author
Richard Sennett was founder director of the New York Institute for the Humanities, and is now University Professor at New York University. He has previously won the Amalfi and Ebert prizes for sociology and in 2010 was awarded the Spinoza Prize for outstanding contributions to public debate on ethics and morality. Together forms part of a three-book project on 'homo faber, 'focusing on the skills human beings possess to make a life together;the first volume of this large project, The Craftsman, was published in 2008. He is the author of many celebrated books including The Fall of Public Man, Flesh and Stone and The Corrosion of Character.
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Each chapter discusses a different aspect craftsmen and craftsmanship. Sennet draws on philosophy, psychology, sociology, anthropology, science and history to examine each of the aspects. Each chapter asks a key question and sets out to find the answer. Sennet describes himself as a "philosophically-minded writer." While the writing is certainly philosophically driven, Sennet has a keen sense of narrative. In seeking out an answer he delves deep and moves across disciplines with grace, but also illustrates each of his points with a story from the history of a number of different crafts.
This book left me with a number threads that I want to follow further on my own. Although Sennet drew his own conclusions about the nature of craftsmanship, he's left his readers with a number of useful tools to start examining and improving their own craft.
Analysis of the strategies to overcome the social isolation and how to work "together" provides a starting point for any reader concerned with what has been misleadingly called "The Big Society", at a time of considerable constraint on funding and attack of "social welfare".
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