Bonds of Cliché

Commentary, September 1980.


The materials accompanying the publication of this new book by Richard Sennett, a sociologist by training and now a professor of humanities at New York University, describe him as “one of the most brilliant and provocative of American thinkers—a master of the complicated interplay between politics and psychology.” Not yet forty, Sennett is the author or co-author of seven previous books, all of them published within the last eleven years, and all of them the objects of extravagant—and extravagantly undeserved—praise. The present volume (number eight), the first of a promised quartet of books on “the emotional bonds of modern society,” offers a good example of Sennett’s brand of writing, in which the machinery of academic sociology is placed at the service of empty and often foolish theorizing about the nature of life in society.

American Enterprise Institute