PDF Richard Sennett ✓ The Fall of Public Man eBook ↠ The Fall eBook ✓

Richard Sennett's The Fall of Public Man examines the growing imbalance between private and public experience and asks what can bring us to reconnect with our communitiesAre we now so self absorbed that we take little interest in the world beyond our own lives? Or has public life left no place for individuals to participate?Tracing the changing nature of urban society from the eighteenth century to the world we now live in and the decline of involvement in political life in recent decades Richard Sennett discusses the causes of our social withdrawal His landmark study of the imbalance of modern civilization provides a fascinating perspective on the relationship between public life and the cult of the individual


10 thoughts on “The Fall of Public Man

  1. says:

    The most important contribution to the dialogue with the unfinished project of Karl Marx since Guy DeBord comes from the canon of former London School of Economics Professor Richard Sennett Seminal is his recognition that Marx's efforts to create a theory of historical movement and social conflict rooted in a critiue of political economy had nothing in common with subseuent attempts to reduce dialectical materialism or still worse historical materialism to a positivistic science the way that Stalinists like Althusser try to portray the mature Marx sic of CAPITAL as a structuralist before his time This is pure crap and so is all the academic scholarship including ALL post structuralism and ALL post modernism that issues from it Sennett like DeBord also grasps that alienation was key to Marx's project and also to our own understanding of primitive rebellion and alienated labour of false consciousness and hegemony and of the role played by the Spectacle itself rooted in political economy in integrating the working class into its own enslavement Above all Sennett moots that the rupture between the followers of Marx and the class struggle anarchist tradition in the first international that gave rise to an increasingly authoritarian fixation of the 2nd 3rd and 4th Internationals with party building might have been premature an observation vindicated by the present terminal demise of democratic centralist parties and rise eg of Occupy Anti Capitalist Direct Action initiatives and radical websites including Anonymous Democracy Now and Wiki Leaks


  2. says:

    In The Fall of Public Man Richard Sennett 1976 argues that the public realm now has become a mere formality 3 and that the private life has become interoriorized 4 leading to confusion between intimate life and public life 5 Thus there is a uestion for the authentic self rather than a public of presenting ideas 8 Sennett argues that this is a function of changes in the 19th century Before this time public relations were about theatricality than representation of the self the former of which Sennett sees as friendly to public life 37 According to Sennett people understood publicity as presenting and theatrical in a sense in the 18th century but the 19th and 20th centuries brought upon a ideology of intimacy 259 with openness of expression 262 Thus we've started to judge character and authenticity in our leaders who can dramatize his own motivations 265


  3. says:

    Speaking as one who has read very little sociology I found this book to be very eye opening It made me aware of things I hadn't noticed and it explained things that I hadAt some point I may attempt a genuine review For now I'll content myself with saying that the descriptions given for two of the editions listed by Goodreads are deficient as of this writing—I should approach the librarians about fixing them A better suggestion of what the book does comes from a page of Richard Sennett's website describing his books the bracketed insertion is mine“Public” life once meant that vital part of one’s life outside the circle of family and close friends Connecting with strangers in an emotionally satisfying way and yet remaining aloof from them was seen as the means by which the human animal was transformed into the social – the civilized – being And the fullest flowering of that public life was realized in the 18th Century in the great capital cities of Europe Sennett shows how our lives today are bereft of the pleasures and reinforcements of this lost interchange with fellow citizens He shows how today the stranger is a threatening figure; how silence and observation have become the only ways to experience public life especially street life without feeling overwhelmed ; how each person believes in the right in public to be left alone And he makes clear how because of the change in public life private life becomes distorted as we of necessity focus and on ourselves on increasingly narcissistic forms of intimacy and self absorption Because of this our personalities cannot fully develop we lack much of the ease the spirit of play the kind of discretion that would allow us real and pleasurable relationships with those whom we may never know intimately


  4. says:

    Characteristically nuanced exploration into concepts of theatrum mundi conflation of private and public identities effects of urban population density acts of presentation versus acts of representation and other topics relevant to my interests The work takes a view of public performance on the stage in civic and political capacities and in general social encounters Settings for consideration range from the courts of Versailles to cafes and gentlemen's clubs in London Thoroughfares promenades and the home are all given due attention as wellSennett takes a skeptical view of our tendency to judge by apparent personality and intention above or even in place of acts on record He notes the dangers of this view a crippling personal and societal incidence of narcissism and susceptibility to charlatans and charismatic exploiters to name a few He discusses the complexity and arbitrary nature of signifying acts and displays from contemporary and Victorian times and how these may lead to neuroses in so many members of society who may attempt to live up to those codes To say nothing of the damage to those who don't know or understand the code by which others are making these judgmentsSennett is currently my favorite 'unknown' authorscholar and I would recommend any book you can find in his name I first read The Hidden Injuries of Class and most recently am in the midst of Respect in a World of Ineuality


  5. says:

    A fascinating evocation of changing styles of personal and public expression Sennett is at once a historian sociologist student of psychoanalytic doctrine and celebrant of city life Seldom have I read a serious work of social theory that explains as much contemporary experience as Sennett's doesThis was a difficult read for me but one has to admire the breadth of Professor Sennett's erudition and the reach of his historical imagination


  6. says:

    I had never heard of Richard Sennett until a read an article about the evolving role that clothing has played in the 20th century and how that is a reflection upon how people see themselves in relation to society—“The Fall of Public Man” was referenced in the article in connection to one of the interesting points As with so many books I placed a library hold on the title and just kind of forgot about itI’m glad I actually got to reading it FPM has been so rewarding Sennett essentially argues that since the height of a chaos of identity as reflected in “impersonal public expression due to the breaking apart of social roles in the 18th century a result of the relocation of the middle classes to the city who had no ueues which could be reflected in dress or manner we have been slowly becoming a intimate society No doubt we are used to seeing this word “intimate” used to promote all the good things in life What’s wrong with intimacy? Sennett says that the emphasis on intimacy has come at a cost to our public cohesion rendering us less meaningfully vocal and removing our sense of agency due to a crushing isolation After all the ability to organize to efface individual difference reuires a code of impersonal public expression—this is what we lack todayThe obsession with persons at the expense of impersonal social relations is like a filter which discolors our rational understanding of society; it obscures the continuing importance of class in advanced industrial society; it leads us to believe community is an act of mutual self disclosure and to undervalue the community relations of strangers particularly those which occur in citiesThe trade off between greater psychic absorption and lessened social participation can easily be mistaken as a psychological issue itself It could be said that people are losing the will to act socially or that they are losing the desire These words as pure psychological states mislead because they do not explain how a whole society could lose its will together or change its desires They further mislead in suggesting a therapeutic solution to shake people out of this self absorption as if the environment which has eroded their social will and transformed their desires might suddenly welcome changed individuals with open arms”Public expression rests upon an idea of “human nature” or “character” that might be informed by a religious world view for instance Personality which came to replace character is spawned from an atomistic secular point of view whose belief lies within an immanent interpretation of the world which attempts to grasp an unmediated point of view this of course is a grand illusion In a paradoxical way we put a premium on being able to express your so called inner self but this self is constantly isolated and lost since society no longer provides a set of ueues which would allow the individual to act politically What results is a world where the individual is an isolated spectator from their fellow beings easily swayed and subdued by charismatic moments where if only for a split second they “identify” with another In this society there is no agency since community is defined as mutual personal disclosure rather than an act where a community produces meaning together impersonally The former has no public life—or rather public life consists almost exclusively of a set of similar “kinds” of people whose authenticity are you really our “kind”? is constantly being put into uestion—proving authenticity then usually comes in the form of an attempt to purify their community A true public life has little concern for authenticity or purity What matters is the common impersonal currency of expressionWhat has emerged in the last hundred years as communities of collective personality have begun to form is that the shared imagery becomes a deterrent to shared action Just as personality itself has become an antisocial idea collective personality becomes group identity in society hostile to difficult to translate into group activity Community has become a phenomenon of collective being rather than collective action save in one way The only transaction for the group to engage in is that of purification of rejection and chastisement of those who are not like others Since the symbolic materials usable in forming collective personality are unstable communal purification is unending a continual uest after the loyal American the authentic Aryan the genuine revolutionary The logic of collective personality is the purge; its enemy all acts of alliance cooperation or United Front Broadly stated when people today seek to have full and open emotional relations with each other they succeed only in wounding each other This is the logical conseuence of the destructive gemeinschaft which arose when personality made its appearance in societyI really should not be writing an essay on a book right now during my summer semester so I’ll cut myself off here—Sennett has so much to say about the state we’re in and how we got here but I think I’ve managed hit the main points FPM is truly a revelation and an answer to the uestion of why we feel so alone and disengaged My uestion to you is who do you suppose benefits from our isolation?


  7. says:

    Sociology became fun to read when I started thinking of it as set of inconvenient fictions Synthetic poet as narrative researcher Dialectics of fashion In other news this book is about exactly what the dust jacket says it is about


  8. says:

    Read Martin Buber's 'I and Thou' edited by Kaufman first then read this work I have been spinning in circles ever since I did that and want someone to suggest a intellectual resting place


  9. says:

    This is a great work of sociology demonstrating enormous scholarship and erudition It is unusual for a modern work of sociology to be so discursive the book ranges from discussions of theatre architecture literature philosophy psychology and child development amongst others This makes it a difficult book to understand and one that benefits from repeat reading However the ideas under discussion make such time well spent Sennett is an engaging writer although in the earlier sections of the book he perhaps could have defined the terms he uses clearly However this is a uibbleIn The Fall of Public Man Sennett sets out his critiue of the 'intimate society' in which as he describes it what is good is defined as personal and the bad as impersonal In this schema 'warmth' is praised over things that are 'cold' or 'aloof' Ways of thinking about society are transformed into psychological terms a good political leader is one who is 'principled' or 'authentic' As Sennett points out the rationality of thinking about politics in this way is unclear as those terms rely upon assessing an individual's character which is not only almost impossible for people who don't know them personally but also irrelevant to whether the political leader can achieve something for the public that puts them in powerHowever Sennett also points out deeper problems implicit in this way of thinking In particular he describes how the intimate society tends towards de politicization if 'impersonal forces' are not emotionally gratifying then they are not considered important in the way personal things are A person may not wish to conceive of the position they occupy in a social class hierarchy because that would undermine their 'personality' This prevents them from acting in concert with others to improve their conditionsFurther Sennett describes how interacting with others on an impersonal basis can lead to people becoming expressive and open whereas when people come to need to interact on the basis of a personal connection sectarianism and closed mindedness often result as personal connections usually imply connections with the like minded To demonstrate this several sections of the book are devoted to comparing public life in London and Paris at different points in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Sennett favorably points to practices that existed to build an impersonal public sphere such as forms of dress that drew attention from personal characteristics that he claims lead to greater sociability than social practices that depend on emotional interconnectednessTo demonstrate the irrationality of considering politics in personal terms Sennett also gives an entertaining and very perceptive analysis of Zola's J'Accuse I'd always considered this a rather strange document but had not considered it in the way Sennett describedThe book is a very impressive example of how sociology can be a philosophy of everyday life and is highly recommended


  10. says:

    Essential reading if you want to understand why public discourse is so hard in the States and why there is not governing sense of public good in situations where there should be