Richard Sennett and Saskia Sassen are analysing the ways in which the modern world is succumbing to "brutal simplicities" in the phrase of the historian Jacob Burckhardt, a world sharply divided between winners and losers, between religious convictions, between natives and foreigners. The "open city" means opening the city up to complexities in its politics, social life, and culture.
Richard Sennett is University Professor at New York University and also holds position at the London School of Economics and at Cambridge University (UK). His research and writing is about cities, labor, and culture. His wife Saskia Sassen is the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology, and Chairs The Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University. Her main focus of research is cities, immigration, and states in the world economy, with inequality, gendering and digitization three key variables running though her work.