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Richard Sennett in Conversation with Will Hutton

Tuesday, 25 May 2010
17:00 - 18:30
The Work Foundation, 21 Palmer Street, SW1H 0AD

This event was held at The Work Foundation on 25 May 2010.

Richard Sennet in conversation with Will Hutton

Spanning four decades, Sennett’s work has considered and challenged the many ways in which technology, capitalism and work conspire to sharpen inequalities, threaten dignity and self-respect, and force ruptures in the relationships between people and within culture. Most recently, in The Craftsman (2008), Sennett has explored a more positive take on labour: craft names the basic human impulse to do a job well for its own sake. It does not just apply to skilled manual workers. Many other types of work - the computer programmer, the doctor, the parent, and the citizen - need to master the virtues of good craftsmanship. Sennett has emerged as one of the most profound voices on how modern techno-capitalism is transforming the business of being alive and earning a living. Sennett today divides his time teaching and writing at New York University and the London School of Economics.


  • Will Hutton, Executive Vice Chair, The Work Foundation
  • Richard Sennett, writes about cities, labour, and culture. He teaches sociology at New York University and at the London School of Economics

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 PhD 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. Mr.Sennett is married to the sociologist Saskia Sassen. He continues to play chamber music for pleasure, and is a passionate cook.

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