Digital Reviewer

Richard Sennett: Together (Book)

I thought this looked really interesting:

Together traces the evolution of cooperative rituals in medieval churches and guilds, Renaissance workshops and courts, early modern laboratories and diplomatic embassies. In our lives today, it explains the trials and prospects of cooperation online, face-to-face in ethnic conflicts, among financial workers and community organisers. (from Amazon description).

Frank Furedi reviewed this for Times Higher Education¬†– here’s a taster:

Today, informality and spontaneous behaviour are often regarded as a potential breach of contract by human resources departments. This formalisation of relationships is not a by-product of overzealous managerialism, but a symptom of society’s estrangement from the uncertainties associated with informality. Sennett rightly observes that “formality favours authority and seeks to prevent surprise”. Informal relations are by definition fluid and unpredictable. Precisely because such relations involve an element of give and take, their pursuit could lead to unpredictable outcomes. The reason why Sennett’s Boston workers cultivated relations of cooperation is because, through that interactive dynamic, they gained a measure of self-respect and a glimmer of agency.

Read the review here, or buy the book.