A Walk with Richard Sennett

Richard Sennett writes about cities, labor and culture. He is famed for his classic accounts of the cultural transformations of urban life such as The Fall of Public Man (1977) and The Uses of Disorder (1970) as well as his analyses of the changes in the nature of work in modern capitalism, such as The Hidden Injuries of Class (written with Jonathan Cobb; 1972) and The Corrosion of Character (1998). Before he became a leading scholar of urbanism, he moved to the West Village as a music student in 1962. He took me on a tour of the area (on a very windy day), mixing reminiscences of the old neighborhood with thoughts on how his experience living there informed his writing. His observations touch on issues of adaptive reuse, architectural determinism and why he doesn’t like the word ‘sustainability.’ Urbanist texts shape our thoughts on cities and what to do about them, but rarely do we get the opportunity to hear an influential urbanist confront the built environment intimately and informally or to see the details to which he is reacting. In this audio-slideshow, we hear Sennett in his own words and see what he is noticing.

At Urban Omnibus, over the next several months, we plan to offer several such walks with architects, planners, designers, scholars, artists and citizens. If there’s a particular individual you’d like to take a walk with, drop us a line and maybe we can call him or her up, take a walk, and share the conversation, observations and imagery.

Richard Sennett writes about cities, labor, and culture. He teaches sociology at New York University and at the London School of Economics.