The work, Shop Class As Soulcraft, by Matthew Crawford, is about the satisfaction of doing manual labor. He emphasizes that we must incorporate craft in technology and not simply take it for granted. Crawford states that a lot of the emerging jobs in the market “steer young people toward the most ghostly kinds of work.” and that we’ve been assured for years that we’re entering a post-industrial economy, one that prepares people for the high-tech future. He refutes the growing discretization of manual labor and the claim that it is not “viable anymore as a livelihood.”
“What ordinary people once made, they buy; and what they once fixed for themselves, they replace entirely or hire an expert to repair.” Craftsmanship poses a challenge to the ethic of consumerism, as the sociologist Richard Sennett argues in the excerpt. “The craftsman is proud of what he has made, and cherishes it, while the consumer discards things that are perfectly serviceable in his restless pursuit of the new.”
The global capitalist system has created a dependency on buying commodities, adhering to a consumerist culture. There is, however, a newly emerging trend being employed by many professionals and hobbyists that want to create rather than simply consume. The “Do It Yourself” culture is posing a significant social transformation in the way people think about design as a medium for freeing themselves from the vicious cycle of consumerism.
The system of finding a place in the labor market to sustain oneself and afford a decent standard of living is a Capitalist creation to limit the working class to work for the elite few who own the modes of production. This system, in its essence, limits a whole class of people from owning their own modes of production and becoming economically autonomous. Having the power to create is a skill we must obtain, in order to gan autonomy over our products. Crowd funding websites, like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, are allowing DIY objects, previously regarded as craft or low art, to become profitable, giving the maker agency over what they create and how they choose to market it. One will never experience that freedom unless they learn how to build things.
I believe in the importance of the DIY culture and idea of recycling found objects and repurposing their use. With this philosophy in mind, I took an old bicycle wheel I found on the street and turned it into a rotatable clothes hanger that can be suspended from the ceiling. This new object also serves as an economical use of space. This is part of a trend called circular production, which is essentially, the recycling or reusing of old parts of an object to repurpose them for something new. The idea of switching from a linear to circular production is a concept that is gaining popularity even among corporate companies, because, not only is it better for the environment, but is also generates more profit, because of less materials used. What I find interesting about the new object I created, is that it solves a design problem of insufficient space in my apartment, as well as reduce waste, rather than add to it.
1. Crawford, Matthew B.. Shop class as soulcraft: an inquiry into the value of work. New York: Penguin Press, 2009.
2. Rushkoff, Douglas, and Leland Purvis. “Preface.” In Program or be programmed: ten commands for a digital age. Berkeley, CA: Soft Skull Press, 2011. 9.
3. Kojève, Alexandre, and Raymond Queneau. “In Place of an Introduction.” In Introduction to the reading of Hegel: lectures on the phenomenology of spirit. New York: Basic Books, 1969. 25.