Learn more Shop now Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Fitbit

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 16 November 2006
The book is well written and makes it points clearly and supports them with enough data and examples to make it resonate with anyone working in a team environment that has been upsized, downsized, rightsized or simply been subject to a number of reorganisations. He brings home the quiet desperation that many feel as they come to terms with an ever changing world that is not delivering the personal satisfaction and security that was promised.

The tension between older values of loyalty and newer ones of flexibility is well described and it should make everyone fear for whatever will happen next.
0Comment| 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 23 February 2002
This book rang a bell with me because I can see the trends it describes unravelling in my own place of work.
Team working and flat structures are both attacked as one method by which bosses retain power over workers but shed responsibility. Every one is on their own in the world of new working methods and only the bosses really benefit. The old heirarchies are not eulogised but by comparison for Sennett are a lot better than the present state of affairs.The fallout affects the families and other relationships of the workers -there is no trust left and no long term goal to work towards.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 11 May 1999
Richard Sennett takes a very interesting look at the changing workplace and the possible links to its changes. He looks at the effects that the new workplace has taken on people's lives and their families. He gives vivid comparisons between the past generations and how character had its effect in their jobs and how today's jobs have an effect on character. Sennett doesn't just take a 90's perspective, but instead looks into the past at what the motivations and goals of the workers were centuries before. In 1972 Sennett wrote a book, along with Jonathan Cobb, called "The Hidden Injuries of Class". The book is about a man named Enrico who was a janitor. Enrico's job was both routine and not very mentally challenging. The reason that he was content with his job was because he had goals to improve the lives of his children. His vision canceled out most of the mental and physical drain that his job entailed. He also looks back at when most jobs were what he calls "routine" and what people thought of about habitual labor.
Diderot believed that routine labor was good. He thought that the repetitive actions enabled the worker to become an expert and increasingly develop their skills. He explained that in a factory if each worker were to become an expert at their individual task, that the result would be the best possible product produced at the best possible efficiency. Adam Smith had different views. He believed that routine work "deadened the mind." Sennett points out that today the world has followed Smith's ideas. Pride among the workers has dissipated. When a person starts from the bottom and works to the top they appreciate what they have earned and what they have produced. Today the goal is to skip or zoom past the earning stage. Who can get to the top the fastest is the grand prize. Loyalty between the company and the employees isn't visible anymore because many people don't look at what they can offer, but instead at what they want to receive. People's interests are with themselves and sometimes respectively so. Why would someone today have loyalties with a company if they know that they are not valued by that company? The workers know that they are simply a tool that can be replaced with the twist of a wrench. Sennett explains why people don't see the "long-term" and what some of the factors are that have influenced change.
Enrico's son Rico now has most everything that Enrico dreamed for him. He attended college, has a well paying job, and lives comfortably in a New York suburb. Enrico failed to realize that the discipline and experience that he gained, through hard work, was very necessary. By sending Rico to college with Enrico's own money never gave Rico the appreciation of attending the University. Today it is a very common occurrence for parents to pay for their children's tuition. Yet, there is little way around this dilemma. The children need to stay in school to learn so they will be ready for college. To have kids work enough to pay for college is not very realistic. Many people feel that they need to attend college to stay current with the changing times so they can find a good paying job. Technology has had a large part in these changing times. It is the leader while the businesses and companies run, dart, and leap to catch up.
Sennett recognizes that in today's workplace one must be very flexible. Companies need to be light on their feet and able to adapt to quick changes. The world economy and business techniques have changed very similar to how armies have changed. The strongest castle or the longest trench used to be huge advantages. Now all a nation needs is a nuclear weapon and they are a threat. Business is the same way in that the size of the company isn't what makes them strong, but instead the unique ideas and ability to stay afloat with the waves of change. Rico is pawn in this game. He has certain skills but they will only be useful for so long. He had to move four times in fourteen years. He realizes that his skills are only needed for a certain period of time, so he has no loyalty to his job or what he is providing. All of this leaves scars on his personal character. He finds himself feeling dumb when he tries to explain to his children about commitment. His commitment to his family is weak so for him to try and explain about this value doesn't work because it doesn't come from the heart. Commitment isn't part of a fast pace, "short-term" society.
Sennett does a terrific job at showing why people are unhappy with themselves even though they have good paying jobs. He gives evidence that money isn't what makes people happy. Enrico was a very content man for many reasons. He was very organized, he had goals, a family with whom he could spend time with, and a job that wasn't the best but paid enough so that he could support his family. I think that he successfully showed that a person has control over their own character through the decisions that they make. Sometimes people don't see that they have a choice because they are blinded by an outside controlling factor such as greed. By Andy Sweeney and Mike Duvall
0Comment| 34 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 12 May 1999
I am struck by the visceral and reactive comments in some of the reviews, but this only demonstrates that Sennett has touched a vulnerable nerve among those who have a vested interest in the juggernaut of globalization and commercial frenzy of the Internet. Isn't it interesting that the most volatile reviews come from those in the heart of Silicon Valley? Sennett has succeeeded in illuminating the universal in the particular, yes, through what his critics denigrates as "just anecdotes"? But anecdotes are grounded in human experience, not rarefied abstractions of traditional posivist sociology. His critics ought to go back to read C. Wright Mills' clasic The Sociological Imagination, who takes these posivist parasites to task. Sennett also does a stellar job of stripping away the corporate speak and propaganda about "change, teams, reengineering" --the stuff that has made management gurus and their parrot of consultant-followers rich, while the ordinary Joe is the mere anecdotal recipient of such social engineering schemes. Sennett also succeeds in showing how the superficiality of corporate life is bleeding over to the family, eroding away depth and character..this is a sore spot that most managers would rather ignore. As C. Wright Mills, the great sociologist taught, "the political task of the sociologist...is to translate personal troubles into public issues, and public issues into the terms of their human meaning for a variety of indivdiuals" The public isn't moved by barren statistics, it is moved by real stories of real human beings.
22 Comments| 31 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 21 October 2007
A doctor warned me once that people weren't built for rapid mentally jumping from one thing to another and that hi-tech companies tended to use people up. Sennett's warning came quite late.

Sennett's findings seem well intended but not surprising at all to anyone who has worked in hi-tech. I suspect many other workers have noticed the consequences of the "new" capitalism. Similarly, there seems nothing wrong with trying to simplify what is happening by noting a few key characteristics and values. Sennett's observations on the exploitation of "teamwork", although familiar, are welcome. "Risk", "failure", "flexibility" , it all can become as manipulative as political speech about "liberty", "democracy" and "free markets".

However, the 176 pages seem like 20. Despite footnotes, Sennett seems to be writing as if he were the first observer of capitalism, entirely out of character for the profound author of "The Hidden Injuries of Class:. The exact nature of the impact on character in this newer book seems largely unestablished. The efforts of unions, albeit sparse with hi-tech, goes unnoticed. The real consequences on real lives becomes an apparent gentlemenly philosophical exercise. How carefully he closes: "But I do know a regime which provides human beings no deep reasons to care about one another cannot long preserve its legitimacy". If there were, in this book, more sociological and less anecdotal support for such a claim, "The Corrosion of Character" might be worth your reading. As it is, you may well know it yourself.

Sennett does note at the end a "fear of the resurgence of unions". I didn't see that Sennett provided any pointers on where to seek help apart from an abstract appeal to community. Instead of watching your own character corrode, one possibility is seeking out a union on the Web (such as the Industrial Workers of the World).

This book was a big disappointment as I had read Sennett before and been quite impressed, so I may now have expected a lot. It may still be that for some readers this book will help identify for them what is troubling about their work and serve as a basis for discussion of work problems with others.
0Comment| 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 30 March 2012
I only recently turned to this book when doing my own research on the impact of technological change on individuals. Sennett is something of a revelation: an American prepared to deal seriously with the abuses of Anglo-American capitalism whilst retaining a sober tone and realistic outlook. He draws on a broad range of ideas, and applies them through the stories of the workers and citizens he encounters, producing some sparkling ethnography and a deep and humiliating critique of the modern workplace and its failure to fulfil our needs as a shaper of character.

For increasingly hysterical American capitalists, the arguments in this book will be insufficient to inhibit them from their beggar-thy-neighbour approach to business, justified by the twisted moral logic that grants them an obligation at work to extort as much profit as possible from others regardless of social or personal cost. But we can see in hindsight what ignoring Sennett's warnings have come to mean. An American middle-class, those technical specialists and problem-solving types that used to carry out the plans of elite managers, have seen their jobs (and thus their identities) vanish as a result of the greed of capital, and not yet replaced by some other means of constructing character. Sennett poses some serious questions about the sense of taking this approach, and the human cost of it, that have been thoroughly ignored.

This is a prescient book, written in the late nineties and prefiguring the social crises we have today, themselves the result of an economic crisis provoked by the absence of moral and ethical conduct amongst the economic elite. That there might finally be a reckoning (the Occupy movement being a first sign), fits with Sennett's assessment that this only happens at the point where the personal experience of the many can be aggregated. For Western capitalism, we need to confront our failures, and Sennett saw this long before most of us.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 24 February 1999
This is a highly readable book, informed by academic insights but not over scholarly. Its merit is that it makes you think-particularly by the chapter segmentations. Its scope is wide for a small book-employment,the nature of jobs, the career..Throughout Sennett provides a powerful counterblast to the rhetoricians of the right and also demonstrates the indifference of big business and politicians. His perspective on the Davos summits is beautifully written and acute. While respecting the advice of another reviewer concerning Hezenberg et al, I do not believe the books should be compared. 'New Rules' is a book largely about employment and does not attempt to assess matters of meaning and identity at work. Sennett does this admirably. I think his target audience is the layperson not the academic and reading this book can be a rewarding experience
0Comment| 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 28 March 1999
What prompted me to write this review is the scathing criticim I saw here. Some readers call the book unhistorical and unscientific and it probably is. These readers, however, miss the point. The author is not making a scholarly discourse on history or sociology but a social commentary on the havoc the transformations in the workforce are wrecking in peoples' beliefs and hence their lives. I think the essential theme of Mr. Stennet's book is that if we cannot be loyal to our employer, how can we be loyal to other important things in life and more importantly, how can we teach this loyalty to our children? The book is supposed to make us question what is happening in our lives and that it did for me.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 November 1998
Sennett does a wonderful job of presenting a picture of how the world of work has evolved into a tumultuous place full of volatility. No great solutions offered here, but then, that's not what he set out to do. Instead, he's tried to cut through the crap of how-to books and magazines and has laid out an insightful take on why thinks are what they are. A quick read, but provocative.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 27 May 2015
Sennett sees de-industrialisation from the 1980's onwards as having a negative affect on workers lives and provides case studies along with theory. Another short but easily readable text that is ideal for undergraduate studies in social sciences, but makes easy but thoughtful general reading. Recommended. Needs to be read along with Giddens or similar for an alternative view.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)