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The Corrosion of Character: The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism
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The Corrosion of Character: The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  516 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Drawing on interviews with dismissed IBM executives, bakers in a high-tech bakery, a bar owner turned advertising executive and others, the author explores the disorientating effects of the new capitalism in America. This book explores the contrast between the vanished world of rigid, hierachical organizations, where what mattered was a sense of personal character, and the ...more
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published September 30th 1998 by W. W. Norton & Co. (first published 1996)
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Gizem Kendik
Selamlar Richard,

İş dünyasının sahteliğini çözecem diyenler ve beyaz yakalı sendikalıların trendisin (bknz: http://plazaeylemplatformu.wordpress....).
En başından, somut bireysel deneyimlere yedirilmiş fikirlerin için özür sunmayacağını belirtmişsin ve zaten çoğu kesim, somut hayat kesitleriyle teorileri, izlenimleri ve tespitleri uyumlu bir şekilde aktarmanı olumlu karşılamış. Ekonomik trendleri gösteren istatistik tablolarına rağmen “sonra onun IBM’de çalışmaya devam eden” kaynının söylediğine
...more
Julie
Richard Sennett’s influential 1998 book, The Corrosion of Character has important things to say about the nature of modern work. He has a theory, partly based on his own place in the generational scheme of life (as a baby-boomer) that tries to delineate normal and acceptable work patterns from the abnormal and unacceptable in terms of personal identity in the realm of work. What stands out in my mind in this study by Sennett is the provisional nature of work arrangements in today's economy and t ...more
Wm
Sennett may be a little too nostalgic about unions and hierarchical corporate structures and some readers will not like how he frames his arguments in relation to a few people he meets and interviews, but that shouldn't get in the way of his real achievement here: Sennett brings clarity to why the emphasis on teams and flexibility and leaders who don't take ultimate responsibility but let everything slide off of them confuses, depresses and, yes, corrodes the character of workers, many of whom w ...more
Anne Lee
An interesting and in depth look at how our personal and social lives are affected by the market place and how changes within it have diminished opportunities to develop character. Not character in the tv series sense - or character in the isn't that heavy drinker amusing sense but character in the sense that a person is able to discern long term good and the good as a whole and strive toward that not putting necessarily putting aside personal benefit but understanding the difference and make ju ...more
Theophilo Pinto
Este livro, escrito em 1998, mostra como as transformações no campo de trabalho das grandes corporações modificaram as relações entre elas e seus empregados. O cenário que Sennett pinta não é bonito: deixam de ser importantes o compromisso e a experiência profissional. Em seu lugar, entra o convívio com mudanças que não se pode controlar e as relações entre as pessoas de um modo muito mais superficial. O que achei curioso, também, é que a palavra 'caráter', muito ligada ao comportamento, é tema ...more
Wise_owl
The Corrosion of character is a fascinating book, though more, as the author confesses, an extended essay of source with a single over-riding thesis; that the change to 'flexible' work conditions in the workplace results in the erosion of traditional markers of character. That people can no longer find definition and narrative in their working lives because those lives are both divorced from what they do(i.e. Bakers now press buttons on a windows based machine, they have no connection to the act ...more
Marks54
This book presents a series of related essays on the negative influences of the "new capitalism" - by which is meant a range of changed behaviors by originally British and American firms but now increasingly European and Asian firms that focus on rationalizing the workplace and breaking down more traditional aspects of social organization, organizational culture, and climate - although the phenomena are known by other names. The overall punchline of the book is downsizing, outsourcing, deskillin ...more
Jerry Peace
Wish I would have read this in '98. Loyalty to employer- "The modern culture of risk is peculiar in that failure to move is taken as a sin of failure, stability seeming almost a living death. The destination therefore matters less than the act of departure. ...To stay put is to be left out." And age- "The current conditions of corporate life are full of prejudices against middle age, disposed to deny the worth of a person's past experience....arguing that older workers have inflexible mind-sets ...more
Sinesio
Embora interessante, o autor adota uma perspectiva muito centrada no caso norte-americano para chegar a conclusões supostamente universais. As aparentes virtudes das organizações hierarquizadas e do controle sindical não, se foram marcantes nos EUA do pôs-guerra, não o foram em todos os países, e o Brasil é um exemplo disso.

Em vista disso há que se questionar se o ambiente político-institucional não afeta a formação de nosso caráter muito mais intensamente que as relações de trabalho.

O próprio
...more
Timothy McCluskey
Sennett is a remarkable thinker. He is spot-on in his observations on the emerging work force and its impact on community and family. We are forgetting the importance of 'social capital' in creation of wealth. Without the social relationship that form trust, the market culture collapses.
Andrea Olson


My little brother's math textbook was more interesting and better written than this. His writing was so dry and boring, I couldn't focus long enough to see the points he was trying to make. The title had such promise.
Ingrid
Lo leí hace siglos en la carrera, para una de las asignaturas de Psicología de las organizaciones y se me hizo pesado no, lo siguiente -_-
Supongo que en esa época le cogí manía a esa rama de la Psicología (que probablemente tuviera que ver con el enfoque que le daban en la UAB y las pocas asignaturas que se le dedicaban en la licenciatura).

No sé si está en casa de mis padres o se quedó en casa de mi primer ex (con el 95% de mi biblioteca). Supongo que ahora lo leería con una perspectiva muy dife
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Guida Allès
Un llibre extraordinari per la reflexió sobre limpacte del capitalisme flexible sobre el caràcter i les relacions. El caràcter (=el valor ètic q atribuÏm a les nostres relacions, Horaci) va més enllà de la personalitat (=desitjos i sentiments interns).

El major tabú del capitalisme actual és la por a fracassar. Fracassar vol dir NO PODER ESTRUCTURAR UNA VIDA PERSONAL COHERENT, NO PODER REALITZAR ALLÒ PRECIÓS QUE DUIM DINS, NO SABER VIURE, SINÓ JUST EXISTIR. A la societat actual, les persones afr
...more
Bernard Leckning
The reviews here as elsewhere are quite derisive of Sennett's methodology - or lack of it. In "The Fall of Public Man", where he adopts a similar approach to a different subject, Sennett is clearer about his somewhat unorthodox methods - "postholing", as he calls it, is a way of illustrating something more general by looking in depth at a particular phenomenon. In fact, there's nothing terribly unorthodox about this, other than Sennett does not seem to feel compelled to explain or follow his met ...more
Katherine L
Anyone who has read any career website or even glanced at Linked In articles has probably become (over) familiar with the importance placed these days on teamwork, flexibility, broad networking, and personal branding.

Richard Sennett argues that this focus is a direct consequence of the way we now think about capitalism, and further argues that this mindset causes fundamental problems with the way we see ourselves. Put starkly, he suggests that the "older" virtues of character: loyalty, responsib
...more
Brendan
Is there a better way to argue that the ridiculous material gains our ever-expanding economy has afforded us over the past 2+ decades are accrued at the unacceptable of crippling the human spirit than with a few poorly selected, hardly relevant anecdotes?

If there is, the author didn't seem to think it worth exploring. So, instead, we get tear-jerking stories of a woman whose colleagues didn't listen to her at an ad agency, or a guy who had held eleven jobs in eleven years out of college because
...more
Ole
This is a great book. No doubt about it.

I only have one problem with it. It tries to be a scientific book. It isn`t.

Methodological, this book falls through. The story is great, the ideas are, although not necessary new, interresting. None of this matter, when the collection of data (method) - is of such low quality. Why am I left with the feeling that most of the characters are created?

Why is this a problem? Science is based on observation and categorization of knowledge.

When Mr. Sennet constru
...more
Betül YILMAZ
Kitapta karşılaştığım en büyük vurgun, bir fabrika işçisi ya da özel bir şirketin çalışanı olmadığım halde düşünsel kurgumla bu esnek kapitalist sistemin üyesi olduğumu fark etmemdi. Trajikomik bir durum da şu ki 5. Sınıftaki din kültürü öğretmenimin yardımlaşmayı anlatırken kullandığı örneğin Adam Smith'in iğne fabrikası olmasıydı.
Ron
This book is fifteen years old now but it still describes the slippage of "person" from the work place and the damage that the process does/has done to human beings. Sennett suggests some possible responses; he is not naive enough to believe that we can go back to something more "true/stable/real". Sennett talks about the "leaderless" work group and how that concept and the concept of the need for constant change and risk-taking has changed who we are. He doesn't bother arguing about the rightne ...more
Nightsparrow
Considering this was a book to read for class, it was actually a very interesting read. Sennett explores sociological issues facing the workforce today, whilst maintaining a relatable narrative to capture the reader's attention.
Tim
One of the most important books I have and will possibly ever read. From deep within my own existential crisis, I learned I am not alone, and that it is the meta-narratives and structural forces of modernity that cast me into my search for meaning. Sennett is a significant influence on my own work, and will continue to be. I will read and re-read this essay time and again.
Siddarth Gore
Very interesting. Gives you another perspective about things like flexible working hours and agile methodologies. These things are always shown to be good but there are adverse effects of this lifestyle as well. Cannot be generalized to everybody but some aspects are definitely true in my case at least.
Yavuz Anginbas
Many people I meet tell me that they see their jobs as a mere means for financial gain or survival (including me). Dostoevsky once said that;

“Deprived of meaningful work, men and women lose their reason for existence; they go stark, raving mad.”

This study works as an intelligent and in-depth analysis of what this quote actually means in modern work environment.
Lorenzo Schwanz
One of the best books i've read
Betty
Interesting essay on how character is diminished by the flexibility of work in modern capitalism. Without the trappings of hierarchy, the structure of teams and networks plus the management technique of promoting teamwork dilutes individual authority while preserving organizational power. Being part of a team implies sharing a common goal and diminishes the hard line between management and worker, thereby reducing managers' accountability for their own actions like down-sizing.
Deirdre
work in the new capitalism… by Richard Sennett
I found it an interesting read about how people are finding it hard to cope with the way work is being presented and the worship of youth over older and experience. Flexibility is one thing but feeling valued in your job and that there is some security is another.

It isn't really my area of expertise but I did find it interesting to read and it did solidify some of my ideas about how work is going.
David Hurst
This book provides genuine insight, so it is definitely worth reading.

However, Richard Sennett is unnecessarily bleak about the impact of New Capitalism on working people. He glosses over the fact that for most people in the West, and large chunks of Asia and Latin America, New Capitalism has created a substantial increase in the standard of living and interest in people's lives.
Diane
Thought provoking essays but I'm having trouble getting through it right now, probably because trying to read socio-economic theory at 11 pm is not possible in my case. I keep falling asleep!

Well, I finally had to return this book to the library and I have not finished it. Hopefully, I'll be able to come back to it later.
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Richard Sennett has explored how individuals and groups make social and cultural sense of material facts -- about the cities in which they live and about the labour they do. He focuses on how people can become competent interpreters of their own experience, despite the obstacles society may put in their way. His research entails ethnography, history, and social theory. As a social analyst, Mr. Sen ...more
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