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Together: the rituals, pleasures and politics of cooperation

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Richard Sennett
Yale University Press (12 December 2011)

Living with people who differ - racially, ethnically, religiously, or economically - is the most urgent challenge facing civil society today. We tend socially to avoid engaging with people unlike ourselves, and modern politics encourages the politics of the tribe rather than of the city. In this thought-provoking book, Richard Sennett discusses why this has happened and what might be done about it.

Sennett contends that cooperation is a craft, and the foundations for skillful cooperation lie in learning to listen well and discuss rather than debate. In Together he explores how people can cooperate online, on street corners, in schools, at work, and in local politics. He traces the evolution of cooperative rituals from medieval times to today, and in situations as diverse as slave communities, socialist groups in Paris, and workers on Wall Street. Divided into three parts, the book addresses the nature of cooperation, why it has become weak, and how it could be strengthened. The author warns that we must learn the craft of cooperation if we are to make our complex society prosper, yet he reassures us that we can do this, for the capacity for cooperation is embedded in human nature.

  • Richard Sennett is professor emeritus of sociology at LSE.

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Reviews

'This humane work is broad in scope and will be of interest to sociologists, political scientists, and curious readers seeking hope for pursuing a more cooperative society.'
Library Journal

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Together