Magazine article People & Strategy

The Craftsman

Magazine article People & Strategy

The Craftsman

Article excerpt

The Craftsman

Author: Richard Sennett

Publisher: Yale University Press, 2008

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According to sociologist Richard Sennett, our contemporary world will be well-served by a reclamation of the notion of craftsmanship, doing "a job well for its own sake." In his new book, The Craftsman, Sennett posits that we are missing the valuable lessons that material culture, especially in the true marriage of head and hand, can present. He believes we must move beyond being ruled by the sheer "we do it because we can" mentality, available through scientific and technological advances, toward a more thoughtful melding of theory (head) and practice (hand) in all our endeavors, whether in the production of violins, medicine, computer programming, or other pursuits. Sennett is no simple Luddite, calling for an end to technology and a return to simple handmade arts and crafts. Instead his analysis stresses that we all can be better served by an ethic of craftsmanship, which will return us to a greater understanding of choices and consequences in how we produce goods and services and how we as consumers view them.

Sennett draws on an interesting diversity of historical and contemporary examples of craft to illustrate his thesis. He travels back and forth from the Manhattan Project to the brick makers of ancient Rome, from the guildhalls of Europe to the world of Linux programmers, and many places in between. He explores this reclamation of craft and explains that we are not limited in our craftsmanship by the lack of ability. …

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