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Together: The Rituals, Pleasures, and Politics of Cooperation is the most recent book Richard Sennett has been working on. The writer was born in 1943 by a single mother and brought up in Chicagos Cabrini Green. His vulnerable childhood features his book Together. He grew up in the neighborhood of people from different ethnicity, races, religious and economic standard who were also beneficiaries of these settlement houses. Richard is a professor of sociology in New York University and also in London School of economics. He is a sociologist. The author has previously published fifteen books. In the indicated work, he illustrates a very special theme in mind Cooperation. The professor uses different illustration to analyze how peoples behavior when dealing with people who are unlike them.
In this book, Sennett shows cooperation as craft. According to this book, good cooperation depends on the persons ability to listen and discuss questions with others. It does not depend on the debate. In the sociologists view, todays politics is on the basis of tribes instead of being on cities. He shows how people can cooperate in the modern society. This can be achieved online, in schools, politics in workplaces and even on the streets. The author investigates difficult cooperation which involves dealing with people that we either do not know or we do not like. By this book, constructive cooperation is achieved using dialogic skills. Ability to understand and act towards other peoples need is critical for survival. During World War II, American soldiers survived because of their cooperation on the battlefield. If people learn the dialogic skills, practice these, and take the available opportunities to improve the ones, they, definitely, become better in cooperation. Sennett traces how cooperative rituals have evolved since sea age, reasons for the weakening of the pointed skills and ways of strengthening the analyzed phenomenon. Reading this book is important because cooperation is critical for survival in todays complex society (Sennett, 71).
Sennett thoroughly investigates cooperation and types of human relationships. He summarizes this as a spectrum of exchange that people engage in. Spectrum exchange defines the experience of giving and taking among organisms. Every creature deliberates on what to take or give during various kinds of exchanges. In this book, the scientist categorizes human relationships into five groups. These include altruist exchange, win-win exchange, differentiating exchange, zero sum exchange and winner-takes-all exchange.
According to Sennett, in this book, altruistic exchange refers to the self sacrifice. Win-win exchange is where both parties will benefit from the give and take experience. In the third type of human relationship differential exchange the parties realize their differences. In the zero sum exchanges, one of the parties succeeds at the expense of the other party. In the winner-takes-all exchange one party is completely replaced by the other one.
Sennett states todays society is discouraging people from learning the skills that enhance cooperation. This is mainly a result of economic inequalities. Though cooperation is in peoples genes, it should be enhanced and nurtured. This notion is what would help people work together and while sharing with others, give them what they lack. The researcher portrayed a clear distinction between the dialectical and dialogical processes. In dialectical, people of different races, gender, age, nationality and social status, having different opinions about the same subject can use reasonable arguments to win. Here, there are many ideologies that can be used to obtain a solution. The dialogical process, each ideology can give different solutions depending on the existing circumstances. In his book, Sennett favors the described above process because of its room for openness and empathy during cooperation.
The author shows how the viewed concept between people compares that of other creatures. He compares different rituals to illustrate how mutual cooperation and combination can be achieved. According to this book, human being should provide a balance, maintained during the studied process, to ensure the enhanced while this experience cooperation. Naturally in competition people are aggressive and angry, the fragile balance should prevent destruction of competitors cooperation. The natural environment is constantly changing; therefore social animals find it hard to achieve the fragile balance during their interaction. However, this balance is obtained using the spectrum of exchanges (Sennett, 88).
Using the spectrum of exchange, human beings and other social animals can easily achieve the fragile balance. A ritual helps in achieving this balance. This refers to a way that people and social animals use to organize and balance exchanges during interaction. There are different types of ratios and among the rituals mentioned by Sennett is walking down aisle instead of walking down streets. To the authors mind, handshake is an experience that benefits both parties. A ritual involves nature, exchanges and culture.
The economic inequalities and modern capitalism have weakened cooperation in our society. The competition resulting from economic inequalities is aggressive and at times characterized by anger thus being destructive on the cooperation. Modern capitalism reduces the openness of dialogic approach in problem solving. Freuds definition of quality life is to have love and work, but Sennett argues that he omitted the role of community. The last one defines community as the process in which human beings solve the face to face relations and their limitations. Ignorance about the importance of cooperation among the members of our society has lead to poorly designed institutions and technologies. Politics that are based on the tribes other than on the cities have contributed in the destruction of cooperation. The cooperative nature has been affected by the new culture of individualism. The organization of labor, religious practices and civility promoted the culture of individualism. In general, all these can be grouped into structural inequality and the new forms of labor. However, Sennett is optimistic that this can be solved by using the advanced technologies positively. We should bridge the gap created by growing inequalities using the internet and web. By Sennett, we should reform the current social arrangements for cooperation.
Richard Sennett deepens our understanding on cooperation. In this book, he investigates causes of conflict of interests among people who do not cooperate. He points out the required for effective cooperation skills have to be achieved. The dialogic skills may be in peoples genes, but they should be enhanced. In the modern society, cooperation has been weakening by structural inequalities and the new workplaces. There structures in the workplaces reduce the accountability and destroy the social triangle. Cooperation is build on the basis of nature, exchanges and culture. Sennett traces the analyzed notion from the 16th century and compares it to todays complex society. According to the sociologist, the viewed concept is a craft whose foundation is effective dialogic skills (Sennett, 2012). In Together, he suggests ways in which our society can strengthen cooperation. This would enable our complex society to be prosperous.