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The Culture of the New Capitalism Hardcover – January 1, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
As the old saw goes: Be careful what you ask for. In "The Culture of New Capitalism," Sennett seems somewhat nostalgic for the security and rewarding work that bureaucracies once provided. The dismantling of large-scale institutions did not result in the communities of trust and solidarity for which the radicals had hoped. Instead, they left modern day workers in very fragmented and ambiguous working conditions.
According to Sennett, these conditions came about in the 1970's and have accelerated since. After the breakdown of the Bretton Woods agreement, capital markets became globalized. Corporate managers became more concerned about increasing short term value - higher share price - and less concerned about the long-term welfare of their employees. Over the years wages have stagnated and benefits have been reduced. In short, "the new capitalism" or "new economy" of which he speaks has been reconfigured to give an increasing amount of wealth to shareholders rather than employees.
What effect this has had on the workplace is the focus of this study. The target industries of this study were high technology, finance, and media, but what has taken place there foreshadows what is happening in other industries and also the public sector.
First, Sennett finds that employees must learn how to manage short-term relationships; corporations no longer provide a long-term framework.Read more ›
Sennett states that three new pages were turned in the late twentieth century workplace. "First has been the shift from managerial to shareholder power in large companies." (pg. 37) This shift in power, according to Sennett turned a second new page: "The empowered investors wanted short-term rather than long-term results." The third new page representing a challenge to the past "lay in the development of new technologies of communication and manufacturing." He notes that "one consequence of the information revolution has...been to replace modulation and interpretation of commands by a new kind of centralization." (pg. 43) At the same time, automation, growing out of technological innovation "...has affected the [social capitalist] bureaucratic pyramid in one profound way: the base of the pyramid no longer needs to be big." (pg. 43). Circuits replace people.Read more ›
I recommend this book to anyone interested in having a clearer image of the dynamic nature of late capitalism and its impact on the quality of our lives.
Elsewhere, his diagnosis of the inherently agitating, dynamic and shifting new economic order based on the ownership of shareholders seeking short-term gains and implicitly heralding the virtues of constant change, organizational reengineering and creative destruction over stability and long-term value building might bear challenging in some respects. While there is truth in his statement at the time of the book's publication, the ensuing global economic downturn has hearkened a return to the perceived desirability of stability and stolidity in corporations as investors seek shelter from the economic mayhem.
I also questioned his portrayal of the superficially engaged and ever change-responsive ideal employee bearing 'potential' over experience, the suggestion of which is that the new economy no longer affords the accumulation and deepening of experience or development of a spirit of craftsmanship.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an honest view of our fragile humanity in opposition to the homo economicus paradigm as we live and struggle for sustenance every day.Published 16 months ago by Jose Antonio Arean M.
Sennett is one of the most astute and insightful social analysts. His themes of inequality and exploitation remain salient into the future.Published on November 19, 2013 by DAVID
This book presents a different perspective on traditional and contemporary capitalism. The author uses arguments of philosophers such as Max weber, karl Marx and other significant... Read morePublished on February 19, 2013 by Elizabeth Echavarria