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Shop Class as Soulcraft

An Inquiry Into the Value of Work

By Matthew B. Crawford
16-minute read
Audio available
Shop Class as Soulcraft : An Inquiry Into the Value of Work  by Matthew B. Crawford

Shop Class as Soulcraft (2009) is an eye-opening view into how working with your hands can transform your life. These blinks take a look at the changing nature of work, the value of manual labor and how choosing a trade, as opposed to a profession, might be your ticket to happiness.

  • Academics and students who aren’t sure if a life of theoretical work is for them
  • Readers who want to learn more about the philosophy and psychology of manual work
  • Anybody who’s fed up with working in a cubicle and wants a way out

Matthew B. Crawford is a philosopher and motorcycle mechanic. He earned a Ph.D. in political philosophy and took a job at a Washington D.C. think tank but wasn’t satisfied. So he changed course to open an independent motorcycle repair shop and is still pursuing academia as a research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia.

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Shop Class as Soulcraft

An Inquiry Into the Value of Work

By Matthew B. Crawford
  • Read in 16 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 10 key ideas
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Shop Class as Soulcraft : An Inquiry Into the Value of Work  by Matthew B. Crawford
Synopsis

Shop Class as Soulcraft (2009) is an eye-opening view into how working with your hands can transform your life. These blinks take a look at the changing nature of work, the value of manual labor and how choosing a trade, as opposed to a profession, might be your ticket to happiness.

Key idea 1 of 10

Even though we don’t fix and build things ourselves anymore, an interest in manual labor is on the rise.

Can you recall the last time you worked on your car, built a piece of furniture from scratch or made your own clothing? Chances are it’s probably been a while – if you’ve ever done it at all.

That’s because the modern world is full of devices that discourage users from repairing or even understanding them. Many modern products are so complex and delicate that the majority of people are too intimidated to attempt repairing them. Just imagine trying to fix a problem with your flat-screen TV.

In addition, many contemporary products are designed to conceal their messy inner workings with a seamless facade. For instance, if you open the hood of a new German car you won’t see an engine but a plastic case.

Products are even put together in such a way as to discourage their disassembly. For instance, they might come with extra hardware that can only be loosened with uncommon tools.

Part of the reason we’ve become more passive and dependent on other people to fix things is due to these changes. We used to make things; now we buy them. We used to fix things; now we throw them away.

It’s not just that we’re discouraged from making repairs – we might also have the feeling that doing things ourselves is economically wasteful. After all, imagine all the time and effort that would go into knitting an imperfect sweater when you could buy a perfectly good one for a few bucks.

However, the interest in manual work is slowly but surely on the rise. It’s clear that people are growing increasingly discontent with not understanding the products they use and depending on businesses to provide them with everything from food to clothing.

On top of that, the rapidly deteriorating state of the economy is demanding more self-reliance. As a result, we’re seeing people grow their own food, fix things themselves and even raise chickens on the rooftops of New York City.

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