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ChatChat - Claudia Cragg

May 31, 2010

In this interview, Dr. Matthew B. Crawford talks to Claudia Cragg about 'Why Office Work is Bad for Us and Fixing Things Feels Good. This iconic book - bound to be as powerful as 'Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' was in its day - Crawford also explores why some jobs offer fulfilment while others leave us frustrated.

It answers the question as to why we so often think of our working selves as separate from our 'true' selves?

Over the course of the twentieth century, Dr. Crawford argues that we have separated mental work from manual labour, replacing the workshop with either the office cubicle or the factory line.

In this inspiring and persuasive book, he explores the dangers of this false distinction and presents instead the case for working with your hands. It will also force many a parent to question why today they are only pushing their kids hard towards academic (grade-based rote-learning, mulitple choice) success, turning them only into knowledge workers many of whom will be doomed to remain for an eternity on the very bottom of the pile.

The publishers believe that Dr Crawford "delivers a radical, timely and extremely enjoyable re-evaluation of our attitudes to work" and no doubt a great many listeners to this interview might well agree. 

Matthew B. Crawford majored in physics as an undergraduate, then turned to political philosophy (Ph.D. Chicago). His writings for The New Atlantis, A Journal of Technology and Society, bring the two concerns together, and consider how developments in the sciences influence our view of the human person. Currently a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, he also runs a small business in Richmond.


note: In the US, the book is known as 'Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work'.