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Shop Class as Soulcraft

An Inquiry into the Value of Work

Matthew B. Crawford

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.

Description

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

Apr 20, 2009 – 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.

Customer Reviews

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.

Interesting

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.

Insightful read

This book was very well written. Offers a lot of insight in an accessible, entertaining format.

Shop Class as Soulcraft
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  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Philosophy
  • Published: May 28, 2009
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
  • Print Length: 256 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings