Prac­tis­ing co­op­er­a­tion

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The Rit­u­als, Plea­sures and Pol­i­tics of Co­op­er­a­tion Richard Sen­nett

Yale Univer­sity Press (Jan­uary 10, 2012) $18.48

336

Ti­tle: Au­thor: Pub­lisher: Price: No. of pages:

Liv­ing with peo­ple who dif­fer— racially, eth­ni­cally, re­li­giously, or eco­nom­i­cally—is the most ur­gent chal­lenge fac­ing civil so­ci­ety to­day. We tend so­cially to avoid en­gag­ing with peo­ple un­like our­selves, and mod­ern pol­i­tics en­cour­ages the pol­i­tics of the tribe rather than of the city. In this thought-pro­vok­ing book, Richard Sen­nett dis­cusses why this has hap­pened and what might be done about it.

Sen­nett con­tends that co­op­er­a­tion is a craft, and the foun­da­tions for skill­ful co­op­er­a­tion lie in learn­ing to lis­ten well and dis­cuss rather than de­bate. In To­gether, he ex­plores how peo­ple can co­op­er­ate on­line, on street cor­ners, in schools, at work, and in lo­cal pol­i­tics. He traces the evo­lu­tion of co­op­er­a­tive rit­u­als from me­dieval times to to­day, and in sit­u­a­tions as di­verse as slave com­mu­ni­ties, so­cial­ist groups in Paris, and work­ers on Wall Street. Di­vided into three parts, the book ad­dresses the na­ture of co­op­er­a­tion, why it has be­come weak, and how it could be strength­ened. The au­thor warns that we must learn the craft of co­op­er­a­tion if we are to make our com­plex so­ci­ety pros­per, yet he re­as­sures us that we can do this, for the ca­pac­ity for co­op­er­a­tion is em­bed­ded in hu­man na­ture.

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