“Loss of identity” and “quest for community”—these phrases, nearly worn out from overuse by pop-intellectuals, are rescued and restored to life by Richard Sennett in this thoughtful, seminal little book about the urban condition in America. “Condition” rather than “crisis,” because The Uses of Disorder is not concerned directly with the familiar litany of problems: crime, race, poverty, pollution, housing. Sennett, who teaches sociology at Brandeis University and has been studying carefully the evolution of the 19th-century industrial city into the 20th-century postindustrial metropolis, is of course thoroughly aware of such matters as the failure of urban renewal or the desperate search ...
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