Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work
Publication Date 1 Jan 2009
OverviewShop 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. For those who felt hustled off to college, then to the cubicle, against their own inclinations, it seeks to restore the honour of the manual trades as a life worth choosing. 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 he offers good news as well. 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 obselete. 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. Shop Class as Soulcraft is a passionate call for self-reliance and a moving reflection on how we can live concretely in an ever more abstract world.