Authority

 * AuthorityIn Authority, Sennett analyzes the nature, the role, and the faces of authority – authority in personal life, in the public realm, authority as an idea. Why have we become so afraid of authority? What real needs for authority do we have – for guidance, stability, images of strength? What happens when our fear of and our need for authority come into conflict? In exploring these questions, Sennett examines traditional forms of authority (the father’s in the family, the lord’s in society) and the dominant contemporary styles of authority, and he shows how our needs for no less than our resistance to authority have been shaped by history and culture, as well as by psychological disposition.

Sennett explores the bonds that rebellion against authority paradoxically establishes – how in the very act of rebelling we become more and more tied to those we struggle against. Drawing on examples from a variety of sources – from case histories and interviews with people in therapy suffering painful conflicts with authority, from newspaper accounts, from letters and memoirs (by Kafka, Gide, Edmund Gosse, all of whom experienced intense upheavals of authority in their own families), from corporate agenda, sociological surveys, the writings of a military theorist, the novels of Proust and Dostoevsky – Richard Sennett imagines how we might begin to achieve the detachment and empathy needed to reinvigorate the role of authority according to good and rational ideals of nurturance, guidance, and strength.

New York: Knopf, 1980. Re-issued New York: Norton, 1993. London: Secker and Warburg, 1983. Re-issued London: Norton, 1993. Paris: Fayard, 1982; Madrid: Alianza, 1982. Milan: Bompiani, 1982. Frankfurt: S. Fischer Verlag, 1985. Re-issued Berlin: Berlin Verlag, 2008. Tokyo: Iwanami, 1986.