Department of Sociology

Academic Profile

Richard Sennett


Richard Sennett was born in Chicago in 1943. He grew up in the Cabrini Green Housing Project, one of the first racially-mixed public housing projects in the United States. At the age of six he began to study the piano and the cello, eventually working with Frank Miller of the Chicago Symphony and Claus Adam of the Julliard Quartet. Mr. Sennett was one of the last students of the conductor Pierre Monteux. In 1963 a hand injury put a sudden end to his musical career; for better or worse he then embarked on academic study.

Mr. Sennett trained at the University of Chicago and at Harvard University, receiving his Ph.D. in 1969. He then moved to New York where, in the 1970s he founded, with Susan Sontag and Joseph Brodsky, The New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University. In the 1980s he served as an advisor to UNESCO and as president of the American Council on Work; he also taught occasionally at Harvard. In the mid 1990s Mr. Sennett began to divide his time between New York University and the London School of Economics . In addition to these academic homes, he maintains informal connections to MIT and to Trinity College, Cambridge University.

As of January 2010, Richard Sennett becomes emeritus professor of sociology at LSE, while remaining a working professor at NYU.



* Harvard University Ph.D., 1969

* University of Chicago B.A., 1964

* The Julliard School of Music, 1961

Recent Honors and Awards

* The Tessenow Prize, 2009

* The Gerda Henkel Prize, 2008

* The European Craft Prize, 2008

* The Hegel Prize, Germany, 2006

* Helen and Robert Lynd Award for Sociology, American Sociological Association, 2004

* Rothermere Lectures, Oxford University, 2004

* Castle Lectures, Yale University, 2004

* Honorary Doctorate, Loyola University, 2003

* The Berlin Prize for Sociology, 2001

* The Amalfi Prize for European Sociology, 1999

* The Friedrich Ebert Award for Sociology, 1999

* Honorary Fellow, Royal Institute of British Architects, 2009 --

* Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations, 2007 --

* Fellow, Royal Society of Arts, 2004 --

* Fellow, The European Academy, 2001 --

* Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1996 –

* Chevalier de l‘Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, 1996

* Fellow, Royal Society of Literature, 1996 --

Professional Memberships

* The American Historical Association

* The American Studies Association

* The American Sociological Association

* The British Sociology Association

* The International Sociological Association

* Societe Europeenne de Culture

* The Tocqueville Society

* Society of Architectural Historians

* Editorial Board, Pequod, 1985 - 1990

* Editorial Board, The Psychoanalytic Study of Society, 1981 --

* Editorial Board, Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought, 1976 --

* Editorial Board, Theory and Society, 1974 - 1981

Overview of Work

Mr. Sennett’s work belongs to “cultural studies” – but not quite in the usual sense of that phrase. Rather than focus on popular culture, he has explored how individuals and groups make sense of material facts about where they live and the work they do. He focuses on how people can become competent interpreters of their own experience, despite the obstacles society may put in their way. His research thus involves interviewing and ethnography; he also draws on the historical record to set these first-person accounts in context. As a social analyst, Mr. Sennett stands at the end of a long line of pragmatist thought, stretching from Richard Rorty back to William James. As a writer, Mr. Sennett has sought to reach a general, intelligent audience.

His first book, The Uses of Disorder, [1970] looked at how personal identity takes form in the modern city. He then studied how working-class identities are shaped in modern society, in The Hidden Injuries of Class, written with Jonathan Cobb. [1972] A study of the public realm of cities, The Fall of Public Man, appeared in 1977; at the end of this decade of writing, Mr. Sennett tried to take account of its philosophic implication in Authority [1980].

At this point the writer needed a break from sociology, a refuge he found in composing three novels: The Frog who Dared to Croak [1982], An Evening of Brahms [1984] and Palais Royal [1987]. He returned to urban studies with two books, The Conscience of the Eye, [1990], a work focusing on urban design, and Flesh and Stone [1992], a general historical study of how bodily experience has been shaped by the evolution of cities.

In the mid 1990s, as the work world of modern capitalism began to alter quickly and radically, Mr. Sennett began a project charting its personal consequences for workers, a project which has carried him up to the present day. The first of these studies, The Corrosion of Character, [1998] is an ethnographic account of how middle-level employees make sense of the “new economy.” The second in the series, Respect in a World of Inequality, [2002} charts the effects of new ways of working on the welfare state; a third, The Culture of the New Capitalism, [2006] provides an over-view of change. Most recently, Mr. Sennett has explored more positive aspects of labor in The Craftsman [2008].


Sennett, Richard. The Craftsman. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008; London: Allen Lane/Penguin Press, 2008; Berlin: Berlin Verlag, 2008; Milan: Feltrinelli, 2008; Paris: Albin Michel, 2009; Barcelona: Anagrama, 2009

Sennett, Richard. Practicing Culture. Oxon: Routledge, 2007

Sennett, Richard. The Culture of the New Capitalism. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005; Berlin: Berlin Verlag, 2005 ; Paris: Albin Michel, 2006; Milan: Il Mulino, 2006; Barcelona, Anagrama, 2006

Sennett, Richard. Respect, In an Age of Inequality. New York: W.W. Norton, 2003; London: Penguin, 2002; Berlin: Berlin Verlag, 2002; Paris: Albin Michel, 2003; Barcelona, Anagrama, 2003; Amsterdam, Byblos, 2003; Milan: Il Mulino, 2004; Moscow, Russian Academy of Sciences, 2004. In preparation: Greece, China, Japan, Korea, Denmark

Sennett, Richard. The Corrosion of Character: The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism. New York: W.W. Norton, 1998; London: W.W. Norton, 1998; Berlin: Berlin Verlag, 2002; Sau Paulo: Record, 1999; Lisbon: Terramar, 2000; Madrid: Anagrama, 1999; Milan: Feltrinelli, 1999; Paris: Albin Michel, 2000; Copenhagen: Hoveland, 2000; Amsterdam, Byblios, 2000; Tokyo, Saito, 2000; trans. In preparation: Greece, Russia, Korea, Turkey, China

Sennett, Richard. Flesh and Stone: The Body and the City in Western Civilization. New York: W.W. Norton, 1994; London: Faber and Faber, 1994; Berlin: Berlin Verlag, 1997. Paris: Editions de la Passion, 2003. Madrid: Alianza, 1997. Rio: Compania das Letras, 1996. Translations in process: Poland, Holland, Japan

Sennett, Richard. The Conscience of the Eye. New York: Knopf, 1991. London: Faber and Faber, 1991. London: Norton, 1992. Frankfurt: S. Fischer Verlag, 1991. Paris: Plon,1991. Re-issued Berlin: Berlin Verlag, 2008. Re-issued Paris: Editions de la Passion, 2006. Milan: Feltrinelli, 1991. Barcelona: Versal, 1991. Sao Paulo: Campania das Letras, 1992; Toyko: Inwanami Shotun, 1999. Translation in process: Denmark

Sennett, Richard. Authority. New York: Knopf, 1980. Re-issued New York: Norton, 1993. London: Secker and Warburg, 1983. Re-issued London: Norton, 1993. Paris: Fayard, 1982; Madrid: Alianza, 1982. Milan: Bompiani, 1982. Frankfurt: S. Fischer Verlag, 1985. Re-issued Berlin: Berlin Verlag, 2008. Tokyo: Iwanami, 1986.

Sennett, Richard. The Fall of Public Man. New York: Knopf, 1977. Re-issued, New York: Norton, 1992. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977. Re-issued London: Penguin, 1993. Paris: Seuil, 1979. Re-issued Paris: Seuil, 1995. Barcelona: Peninsula, 1978. Re-issued Barcelona: Peninsula, 2003. Milan: Bompiani, 1980. Re-issued Milan: Bruno Monadori, 2006. Frankfurt: S. Fischer Verlag, 1983. Re-issued Berlin: Berlin Verlag, 2008. Tokyo: Shoban Shan, 1986; Sao Paulo: Compania das Letras, 1989.

Sennett, Richard and Cobb, Jonathan. The Hidden Injuries of Class. New York: Knopf, 1972. Re-issued New York: Norton, 1993. Re-issued New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977. Re-issued London: Norton, 1993. Barcelona: Peninsula, 1974. A French translation is currently in preparation.

Sennett, Richard. The Uses of Disorder. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1970. New York: Vintage Books, 1974. Paris: Editions Recherche, 1980. Re-issued with a new preface, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984.

Nineteenth Century Cities. Edited by Stephen Thernstrom and Richard Sennett. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1969.

Classic Essays on the Culture of Cities. Edited and introductory essay by Richard Sennett. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1969; Simon and Schuster, 1984.

Recorded Lectures and Talks

Click here for a list of recorded lectures and talks