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Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work Paperback – April 27, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. 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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Bookmarks Magazine
We note that Publishers Weekly named Shop Class as Soulcraft one of the top ten books of 2009. Reviewers were clearly intrigued by Crawford's argument, but only a couple of them seemed fully persuaded. (The New York Times Book Review critic, for example, admitted to enjoying Crawford's manual work alongside his academic career.) But most critics, while praising the book's overall premise, seemed a little hesitant about fully embracing Shop Class as Soulcraft, perhaps because, as the New York Times reviewer observed, many of the author's personal preferences and quirks, such as Crawford's defense of dirty jokes, seem to impede his argument. However, it's hard not to be interested in a philosopher who, in a nation that privileges intellectual attainment, can also successfully replace a carburetor. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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2. He traces the cultural history in the West that has led to the prestigious status of knowledge-based jobs over manual-based jobs, and the general manual dis-engagement of work. He speaks with some authority because he traded in his PhD in philosophy and academic career to become a full-time motorcycle repair mechanic.
3. Crawford explains why he finds manual work more intellectually stimulating more meaningful (because it is more useful) and, in so doing, builds a case for young adults to seriously consider the trades and crafts careers. Real knowledge, he argues, arises through confrontations with real things.
4. He advances the notion of individual agency, the power to do things, not just think about them, or bypass them by purchasing a product. He suggests that most knowledge work is organized around a process of depersonalization, where a worker is usually answerable to a force not situated at the site of the work. By contrast, the work of skilled tradespeople is direct engagement with a process and product, where accountability is taken at the site of work.
5. In his conclusion, Crawford argues that more self-employment and self-reliance actually increases community because it increases our dependence on each other in the marketplace, rather than having our economic relations mediated by impersonal forces that further separate us from our labor and its produce. As a solo-preneur, I relate to this idea because, while I enjoy a certain amount of freedom and flexibility in my work, I am completely dependent on a supply of clients through market forces who keep me directly accountable for what I do.
Good stuff! It demonstrates for me the importance of getting a deep analysis of your natural inclinations as a young adult. Rather than succumb to social conditioning, we can make decisions based on our innate talents and motivations JobJoy: Finding Your Right Work Through the Power of Your Personal Storyin order to find or create work that recognizes, rewards and motivates us for what we do naturally and effortlessly.
Byron Edgington, author of The Sky Behind Me: A Memoir of Flying & Life
My all time favorite quote comes from this book: "The idea of autonomy denies that we are born into a world that existed prior to us. It posits an essential aloneness; an autonomous being is free in the sense that a being severed from all others is free. To regard oneself in this way is to betray the natural debts we owe to the world, and commit the moral error of ingratitude. For in fact we are basically dependent beings: one upon another and each on a world that is not of our making."
Nothing more needs saying.