The Culture of the New Capitalism

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Yale University Press, 2006 - Business & Economics - 214 pages
The distinguished sociologist Richard Sennett here surveys major differences between earlier forms of industrial capitalism and the more global, more febrile, ever more mutable version of capitalism that is taking its place. He shows how these changes affect everyday life - how the work ethic is changing; how new beliefs about merit and talent displace old values of craftsmanship and achievement; how what Sennett calls the spectre of uselessness' haunts professionals as well as manual workers; how the boundary between consumption and politics is dissolving. In recent years, reformers of both private and public institutions have preached that flexible, global corporations provide a model of freedom for individuals, unlike the experience of fixed and static bureaucracies Max Weber once called an iron cage. Sennett argues that, in banishing old ills, the new-economy model has instead created new social and emotional traumas. Only a certain kind of human being can prosper in unstable, fragmentary institutions: the culture of the new capitalism demands an ideal self oriented to the short-term, focused on potential ability rather than accomplishment, willing to discount or abandon past experience. In a concluding section, Sennett examines a more durable form of self-hood, and what practical initiatives could counter the pernicious effects of 'reform'.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
1 Bureaucracy
15
2 Talent and the Specter of Uselessness
83
3 Consuming Politics
131
4 Social Capitalism in Our Time
179
Notes
199
Index
205
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About the author (2006)

Richard Sennett teaches sociology at the London School of Economics and New York University