Shop Class as Soulcraft
An Inquiry into the Value of Work
Matthew B. Crawford
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A philosopher / mechanic destroys the pretensions of the high- prestige workplace and makes an irresistible case for working with one's hands
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. Those of us who sit in an office often feel a lack of connection to the material world, a sense of loss, and find it difficult to say exactly what we do all day. For anyone who felt hustled off to college, then to the cubicle, against their own inclinations and natural bents, Shop Class as Soulcraft seeks to restore the honor of the manual trades as a life worth choosing.
On both economic and psychological grounds, 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 Crawford offers good news as well: the manual trades are very different from the assembly line, and from dumbed-down white collar work as well. They require careful thinking and are punctuated by moments of genuine pleasure. 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 obsolete. 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. A wholly original debut, Shop Class as Soulcraft offers a passionate call for self-reliance and a moving reflection on how we can live concretely in an ever more abstract world.
Publishers Weekly Review
© Publishers Weekly
From hand 2 head
Crawford is an iconoclast, a philosopher, and distinctly not an ideologue. He makes a provocative and delightful argument for the intellectual value of working with your hands to solve problems not in theory but in the real world of people and objects. The book is also perhaps surprisingly a very honest account of the author's own intellectual growth. This book will be satisfying to anyone who has passed through the halls of academia or the offices of K Street and seen the dishonesty of those who work too far removed from the messiness of the real world where theory or a neat statistical model just can't fix a proverbial motorbike. I hope Crawford keeps writing in this style. He is the kind of thinker Malcolm Gladwell wishes he could be.
The book had it's great moments when equating the value of labor as a mechanic. It was also fun to tear at the societal beliefs that college is a must. However, I don't understand motorcycle repair (the setting of the book) and I felt the conclusions were vague.
This book was very well written. Offers a lot of insight in an accessible, entertaining format.