City and Citizenship: A conversation with Richard Sennett / ONASSIS CULTURAL CENTRE

City and Citizenship: A conversation with Richard Sennett

21 January 2013
Upper Stage
A conversation with the eminent American sociologist Richard Sennett.
Free admission
In this era of constantly expanding cities, living together in today’s urban societies is becoming increasingly complex, given that this spatial expansion has coincided with a sharp shift towards the private in almost every aspect of our daily lives. Just as buildings continue to grow in size, so does our sense of insecurity in the face of rising criminality, unemployment and labour market ‘flexibility’. Where they still exist, public spaces have lost their traditional role as meeting places and focal points for human contact, and prejudice, segregation and isolation of every kind are now the rule, rather than the exception, inside our urban centres.

Speaking at the OCC, an internationally-renowned man of letters, the American sociologist Richard Sennett, will discuss how much these developments have undermined the role of the citizen in the modern metropolis, and the extent to which they have impacted negatively on the social contract which underpins social coexistence with a nexus of rights, obligations and humanistic principles. He will also be exploring contemporary proposals for higher quality urban cohabitation.

Born in Chicago, Sennett teaches Sociology at the London School of Economics and New York University. Having embarked on advanced studies in Music as a prospective cellist and conductor, when a hand injury forced him to abandon his musical career he was lucky enough to have a teacher in New York, Hannah Arendt, who encouraged him to take up Sociology. He has taught at Harvard, MIT and Cambridge, and was the founder—and, for its first decade, the director—of the New York Institute for the Humanities. A widely-read intellectual and an original thinker, he has emerges as one of the world’s most important theorists in the fields of urban development, the nature of work in contemporary society, and the sociology of culture.

In a recent interview published in a Greek newspaper, he predicted that the current global crisis will be with us for decades to come and argued that the continual development model we associate with capitalism is ill-founded, looking back to the period of stasis experienced in both Britain and the United States between 1880 and 1914.

Richard Sennett is a prolific author. The following of his books have been translated into Greek: Flesh and Stone: The Body and the City in Western Civilization (Η τυραννία της οικειότητας, Nefeli 1999), The Uses of Disorder: Personal Identity & City Life (Tropi, 2003), The Culture of the New Capitalism (Savvalas, 2008), Respect, in an age of inequality (Ο ελαστικοποιημένος άνθρωπος, Pedio, 2010), and The Craftsman (Nisides, 2011).

The American sociologist will discuss with the architect Maria Theodorou, founding member and director of School of ARCHitecture for All (SARCHA), that seeks to examine the relationship between architecture and economy in contemporary cities, and Tasos Chalkiopoulos, blogger and co-founder of the group Atenistas.



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