Centennial Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics
Professor of the Humanities, New York University
Richard Sennett’s work belongs to “cultural studies” – but not quite in the usual sense of that phrase. Rather than focus on popular culture, he has explored how individuals and groups make sense of material facts about where they live and the work 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 thus involves interviewing and ethnography; he also draws on the historical record to set these first-person accounts in context. As a social analyst, he stands at the end of a long line of pragmatist thought, stretching from Richard Rorty back to William James.
Richard trained at the University of Chicago and at Harvard University, receiving his Ph.D. in 1969. He then moved to New York where, in the 1970s he founded, with Susan Sontag and Joseph Brodsky, The New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University. In the 1980s he served as an advisor to UNESCO and as president of the American Council on Work; he also taught occasionally at Harvard.
In the mid 1990s he began to divide his time between New York University and the London School of Economics . In addition to these academic homes, he maintains informal connections to MIT and to Trinity College, Cambridge University. As of January 2010, Richard Sennett becomes emeritus professor of sociology at LSE, while remaining a working professor at NYU.