Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work Hardcover – May 28, 2009
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. 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 oneÖs 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 todayÖs 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 donÖt, the toilet flushes or it doesnÖt, 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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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.
Top customer reviews
However, the black-and-white argument of working class versus educated class does not work. A working class position is not a guarantee to job satisfaction and fulfillment. It is much more complex than that. Although Crawford briefly recognizes this in his summary at the end of the book, this is surely the theme that is being promoted in the title and in the marketing of the book.
He hits the nail on the head on page 100 when he states that "Any discipline that deals with authoritative, independent reality requires honest and humility". This requirement is key in our work environment and should pertain to all endeavors, not just working class, hands-on positions. I am a scientist involved in medical product development. Honesty and humility are absolute necessities (tautology intended) in that field. When they are lacking, producing a good product is near impossible.
This book is his calm and steady reflection on the importance of craftsmanship in our world. It is a polite and powerful response to a world that is focused on short term goals using virtual things like email and software.
One of my favorite ideas is page 16, early in the book: "A washing machine, for example, surely exists to serve our needs, but in contending with one that is broken, you have to ask what *it* needs."
In the world of computing in which I work, one encounters many engineers who feel as sense of control over their machines. They think they can make the machine do what they want by brute force of faster CPUs or more disk drives. But the small community of engineers focused on achieving high performance benchmark understands it as Crawford does: You have to understand how the computer works and what the machine needs in order to operate smoothly, at maximum performance without bottleneck or fault. Only then can you provide it with software tailored to its particular style of operation and meet your goals.
As you can see, I don't repair motorcycles, but I'm using the inspiration of this book's ideas on my own life. I highly recommend it to others.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
"Arguing for a renewed cultivation of manual competence puts me at odds with certain nostrums surrounding...Read more