Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work by Matthew B. CrawfordA philosopher/mechanics wise (and sometimes funny) look at the challenges and pleasures of working with ones hands
Called the sleeper hit of the publishing season (The Boston Globe), Shop Class as Soulcraft became an instant bestseller, attracting readers with its radical (and timely) reappraisal of the merits of skilled manual labor. On both economic and psychological grounds, author Matthew B. Crawford questions the educational imperative of turning everyone into a knowledge worker, based on a misguided separation of thinking from doing. Using his own experience as an electrician and mechanic, Crawford presents a wonderfully articulated call for self-reliance and a moving reflection on how we can live concretely in an ever more abstract world.
Matthew Crawford, Attention as a Cultural Problem • 22 March 2016
Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche, They Ride Hogs Over It
When Matthew B. Crawford was a teenager living in Berkeley, Calif. Crawford was inclined to work with his hands, but wood would not do. Crawford needed to hear things gurgle and roar, and so it is perhaps not a surprise to learn that he grew up to own his own motorcycle repair shop. Crawford has a Ph. Crawford is an intellectual who can probably take you in a bar fight.
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Matthew Crawford - Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work
Matthew B. Crawford, who owns and operates a motorcycle repair shop in Richmond, Va. There are two things wrong with this notion, according to Crawford. The first is that it radically undervalues blue-collar work that involves the manipulation of things rather than ideas. Expertise with things permits human beings to have agency over their lives — that is, their ability to exert some control over the myriad faucets, outlets and engines that they depend on from day to day. Unlike the electrician who knows his work is good when you flip a switch and the lights go on, the average knowledge worker is caught in a morass of evaluations, budget projections and planning meetings.
Recent press coverage has sent word-of-mouth buzz on Shop Class through the roof, but it really is a book whose time, in our culture, has come. The book is both impassioned and profound. Like Robert M. Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance , Crawford's book reveals both why we do what we do and why the way we do it is important. More grounded and more elegant than its fellow travelers in hipsterdom and pop culture. Like Pirsig, Crawford doesn't talk about philosophy like someone standing at a podium in tweed. This bracingly countercultural book, written by a scholar who left white-collar work to open a motorcycle repair shop, defiantly rejects received wisdom about the meaning of work in America today.
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