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2 Beaverton Philosophy- General

Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work

by

Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work Cover

ISBN13: 9781594202230
ISBN10: 1594202230
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Staff Pick

One of the most engaging, thought-provoking books I've read in a long time. Matthew Crawford has delivered an accessible, carefully reasoned examination of work and America's evolving ideas about it, addressing a host of important subjects — for example, how we prepare young men and women for the workforce, in terms of both education and the values we assign to labor. Whether you work with a computer (that'd be me) or power tools, Shop Class as Soulcraft will get you asking important questions about what you put into your job and, maybe more importantly, what your job gives back.
Recommended by Kyle, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

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 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. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

Although I am a thoroughgoing information-age worker — freelance writer, blogger — some of my most satisfying work in recent years has had nothing to do with my profession. I'm thinking, for example, of the weeks I spent replacing some decrepit iron pipes in the basement. Who knew plumbing could be such an intellectual puzzle (misroute the vents, flood the house with noxious gas) or that looking... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"This is a deep exploration of craftsmanship by someone with real, hands-on knowledge. The book is also quirky, surprising, and sometimes quite moving." Richard Sennett, author of The Craftsman

Review:

"We are on the verge of a national renewal. It will have more depth and grace if we read Crawford's book carefully and take it to heart. He is a sharp theorist, a practicing mechanic, and a captivating writer." Albert Borgmann, author of Real American Ethics

Review:

"It's not an insult to say that Shop Class is the best self-help book that I've ever read....It's kind of like Heidegger and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance." Slate

Review:

"Inspired social criticism and deep personal exploration. Crawford's work... should be required reading for all educational leaders. Highly recommended; Crawford's appreciation for various trades may intrigue readers with white collar jobs who wonder at the end of each day what they really accomplished." Library Journal

Review:

"A masterpiece filled with surprises." Steve Weinberg, Dallas Morning News

Review:

"A beautiful little book about human excellence and the way it is undervalued in contemporary America." Francis Fukuyama, New York Times Book Review

Synopsis:

In this wise and often funny book, a philosopher/mechanic systematically destroys the pretensions of the high-prestige workplace and makes an irresistible case for working with one's hands.

Synopsis:

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.

Synopsis:

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.

About the Author

Matthew B. Crawford is a philosopher and mechanic. He has a Ph.D. in political philosophy from the University of Chicago and served as postdoctoral fellow on its Committee on Social Thought. Currently a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, he owns and operates Shockoe Moto, an independent motorcycle repair shop in Richmond, Virginia.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 6 comments:

camaas, January 24, 2010 (view all comments by camaas)
This book is the best therapeutic harbor that I have found since abandoning teaching in 1977! I was absolutely devestated by the events that attacked the tenants of education as I had been introduced to them at one of the top-rated teacher colleges in the nation. Foundations of American Education became a matter of "make every student feel good at all costs" instead of "education is every students' means to achieve at the height of their individual talents"!
I left teaching because I could find no solace in the classroom dictated by laws and policies coming aboard at that time. They only got worse as time progressed. "Shop Class as Soulcraft" has put that into a perspective that I can now withstand the guilt assaults thrust upon me for "such awful regard for a "hallowed" institution! Becoming a respected roofing contractor has been my "Soulcraft"!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(4 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
Southeast, November 17, 2009 (view all comments by Southeast)
While I find the general idea behind this book compelling, the hypocrisy is incredibly irritating. For one point,Crawford discusses how plumbers make great money and parents should be proud to steer their kids into that profession. On the converse, he later writes that "knowledge workers" are all about money and that's just soul-less. I also respect his distinction between craft and trade-- but he claims at the start of the book that he is writing about trade--not craft. So, how can he explain the book's title. I also think he misjudges when he claims that high school students who go into trades rather than college will have a better chance at getting some jobs. Applicants with a college degree and experience in a trade will have the best chance at getting a job. Crawford downplays the important role of community colleges, especially. Finally, I am convinced that Crawford just hates teachers. I like the idea of this book but don't think he supports it well. His bias is too obvious to be persuasive.
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(4 of 7 readers found this comment helpful)
SamG, August 2, 2009 (view all comments by SamG)
Some of the comments are reading the book as a political manifesto - which is taking it too far.

Regardless of one's profession and education path, there are very introspective points made in this book. The most important point of all is the immediacy of one's work and influence on the outcome of one's efforts. If you are in the line of work that has customers, you can have the same "look and feel" of immediacy even though you don't have to have engine grease on your hands to experience it.

Another important point is that the educational system itself is abstract, often too abstract, in a sense that everything has to fall into a ballpark made of Costs and Benefits (however unprovable they may seem).

Third, and probably most disturbing point, is that the abstraction of work leads to devaluation of "knowledge" work in general (due to outsourcing and compartmentalization). As a consequence, number of students pursuing math, engineering, physics... is falling because it appears to be a wasted effort on the previous generation.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781594202230
Author:
Crawford, Matthew B.
Publisher:
Penguin Press
Subject:
Aesthetics
Subject:
Labor
Subject:
Work
Subject:
General
Subject:
Labor & Industrial Relations - General
Subject:
Industrial arts
Subject:
Business management
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
20090531
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
b/w illustrations throughout
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
8.58 x 5.86 x 1 in 0.84 lb
Age Level:
17-17

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Related Subjects

Business » Human Resource Management
Business » Management
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
Humanities » Philosophy » General

Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work Used Hardcover
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$6.95 In Stock
Product details 256 pages Penguin Press - English 9781594202230 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

One of the most engaging, thought-provoking books I've read in a long time. Matthew Crawford has delivered an accessible, carefully reasoned examination of work and America's evolving ideas about it, addressing a host of important subjects — for example, how we prepare young men and women for the workforce, in terms of both education and the values we assign to labor. Whether you work with a computer (that'd be me) or power tools, Shop Class as Soulcraft will get you asking important questions about what you put into your job and, maybe more importantly, what your job gives back.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "This is a deep exploration of craftsmanship by someone with real, hands-on knowledge. The book is also quirky, surprising, and sometimes quite moving."
"Review" by , "We are on the verge of a national renewal. It will have more depth and grace if we read Crawford's book carefully and take it to heart. He is a sharp theorist, a practicing mechanic, and a captivating writer."
"Review" by , "It's not an insult to say that Shop Class is the best self-help book that I've ever read....It's kind of like Heidegger and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance."
"Review" by , "Inspired social criticism and deep personal exploration. Crawford's work... should be required reading for all educational leaders. Highly recommended; Crawford's appreciation for various trades may intrigue readers with white collar jobs who wonder at the end of each day what they really accomplished."
"Review" by , "A masterpiece filled with surprises."
"Review" by , "A beautiful little book about human excellence and the way it is undervalued in contemporary America."
"Synopsis" by , In this wise and often funny book, a philosopher/mechanic systematically destroys the pretensions of the high-prestige workplace and makes an irresistible case for working with one's hands.
"Synopsis" by ,
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.

"Synopsis" by ,
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.

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