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Richard Sennett on Co-operation

Richard Sennett is among the most important social thinkers at work today. Here he talks with leading design critic Alice Rawsthorn about his latest book, 'Together' (2012), on how we can repair the social fractures that divide us.

We live in a time of increasing disconnection. Goodwill, Sennett says, isn’t enough to bridge the divide: we need special skills to get on and cooperate, and we’re losing them. To make his case, Sennett weaves together acute observations on situations as diverse as the ritual practices of Renaissance diplomats to the cooperative communities formed by former slaves to the role of isolated junior players in the banking crisis.

But more than simply diagnosing the malaise, Sennett shows us the way through. 'Together' is the second and latest work in his trilogy that began with 'The Craftsman' (2008), which showed how we need to revalue craftsmanship as a template for a richer life. Together extends this theme to consider the craftsman’s workshop as an alternative social model. Sennett talks with Rawsthorn about how that model will help us regain the skills to make and repair the bonds that connect us.

Richard Sennett is Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and University Professor at New York University. Sennett’s hugely influential books include The Fall of Public Man, The Hidden Injuries of Class, The Corrosion of Character, Respect in an Age of Inequality, and The Craftsman. This event celebrates the paperback release of his latest book, Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Co-operation (Penguin, 2012).

This event was part of our series of conversations where leading international thinkers share big ideas for changing the world. It took place on 15 January 2013.