Shop Class as Soulcraft brings alive an experience that was once quite common but now seems to be receding from society - the experience of making and fixing things with our hands. For those who felt hustled off to college, then to the cubicle, against their own inclinations, it seeks to restore the honour of the manual trades as a life worth ...
Shop Class as Soulcraft brings alive an experience that was once quite common but now seems to be receding from society - the experience of making and fixing things with our hands. For those who felt hustled off to college, then to the cubicle, against their own inclinations, it seeks to restore the honour of the manual trades as a life worth choosing. Crawford questions the educational imperative of turning everyone into a 'knowledge worker', based on a misguided separation of thinking from doing, the work of the hand from that of the mind. Crawford shows us how such a partition, which began a century ago with the assembly line, degrades work for those on both sides of the divide. But he offers good news as well. Based on his own experience as an electrician and mechanic, Crawford makes a case for the intrinsic satisfactions and cognitive challenges of manual work. The work of builders and mechanics is secure; it cannot be outsourced, and it cannot be made obselete. Such work ties us to the local communities in which we live and instills the pride that comes from doing work that is genuinely useful. Shop Class as Soulcraft is a passionate call for self-reliance and a moving reflection on how we can live concretely in an ever more abstract world.
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Publishers Weekly, 2009-07-27 Max Bloomquist brings his considerable talents to Crawford's meditation on the meaning of work and disparity between "blue collar" and "white collar" occupations. Crawford draws on his own experience-he quit a miserable think tank job and has found joy and meaning working as a motorcycle mechanic-to question the presumed value of the cubicle working world, deplore society's disconnection from the material world and vividly convey the reward of working with one's hands. Bloomquist reads with authority and erudition; his steady, everyman narration makes Crawford's well-founded arguments even more persuasive. A Penguin Press hardcover (Reviews, Apr. 20). (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2009-04-20 Philosopher and motorcycle repair-shop owner Crawford extols the value of making and fixing things in this masterful paean to what he calls "manual competence," the ability to work with one's hands. According to the author, our alienation from how our possessions are made and how they work takes many forms: the decline of shop class, the design of goods whose workings cannot be accessed by users (such as recent Mercedes models built without oil dipsticks) and the general disdain with which we regard the trades in our emerging "information economy." Unlike today's "knowledge worker," whose work is often so abstract that standards of excellence cannot exist in many fields (consider corporate executives awarded bonuses as their companies sink into bankruptcy), the person who works with his or her hands submits to standards inherent in the work itself: the lights either turn on or they don't, the toilet flushes or it doesn't, the motorcycle roars or sputters. With wit and humor, the author deftly mixes the details of his own experience as a tradesman and then proprietor of a motorcycle repair shop with more philosophical considerations. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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