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Three questions to Richard Sennett

Public space, communication technology and culture

Richard Sennett writes about cities, labor, and culture. He teaches sociology at New York University and at the London School of Economics. He is one of the most prominent scholars on the city, from Antique Greece to contemporary New York, and of the relations between its manifold public spaces and the human body. We hear his take on new technology and cultural expressions in Paris’s public spaces.

Richard Sennett answers three quick questions:

Question 1
Do new technologies of communication expand the skills of urbanites or, to the contrary, do they control their senses?

Question 2
Do information technologies in the subway detract riders from possible contacts with fellow riders?

Question 3
What do you think about cultural expressions in urban public spaces such as the "giant aperitifs" or the hijab?

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Further reading

Richard Sennett’s books on the city:

  • Flesh and Stone: The Body and the City in Western Civilization, New York: W.W. Norton, 1994.
  • The Conscience of the Eye, New York: Knopf, 1991.
  • The Fall of Public Man, New York: Knopf, 1977.
  • Families Against the City: Middle Class Homes of Industrial Chicago, 1872-1890, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1970.
  • Nineteenth Century Cities, Edited by Stephen Thernstrom and Richard Sennett. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1969.
  • Classic Essays on the Culture of Cities, Edited and introductory essay by Richard Sennett. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1969; Simon and Schuster, 1984.

To cite this article:

Richard Sennett & Philippe Simay & Stéphane Tonnelat, “Three questions to Richard Sennett. Public space, communication technology and culture”, Metropolitics, 15 December 2010. URL :

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Centre national de recherche scientifique
Journal supported by the Institut des Sciences Humaines et Sociales (Institute of Human and Social Sciences) of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)