Self and Sennett on the role of Cities post Brexit

Sociologist Richard Sennett believes the UK is on the cusp of a “revolutionary” movement as a consequence of the “catastrophe” that is Brexit.  Speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, he predicted Brexit would create “enormous amounts of social and political disorder”, pitting different groups against one another.   

 “Those who can survive will be very much at a distance from those who can,” added Sennett. “Brexit’s a catastrophe.” 

Sennett, Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics, was in conversation with novelist and psycho-geographer Will Self about Italo Calvino’s book Invisible Cities.  Self said the London of his childhood still had “wiggle room”, “bomb sites and wastelands”, but “now they’re all gone”. Today, he added, the “embolism of an asset bubble” was “stifling growth” in the Capital. “How do I tell my students to think about the complexities of the city when they can’t afford to live there?”

And turning his attention to Edinburgh, Self said the New Town appeared “antiseptic and denuded” with “shadow streets” owned by absentee landlords. “I always think the New Town is like it was designed for Swiftian Houyhnhnms,” he added, “a place for intelligent horses.”

More broadly, Self advised people to leave their houses and “get lost in the city”. “This will liberate your imagination like no other way.”



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