Upgrade to Pro — share decks privately, control downloads, hide ads and more …

Reflecting on Matthew Crawford's "Shop class as soul craft"

Siva Swaminathan
September 26, 2020
17

Reflecting on Matthew Crawford's "Shop class as soul craft"

Siva Swaminathan

September 26, 2020
Tweet

Transcript

  1. Pondering Matthew Crawford's
    "Shop class as soul craft"
    Reading/discussion club
    Siva Swaminathan
    26 September 2020

    View full-size slide

  2. Sociological miasma
    Alienation, loneliness, "bullshit jobs", nihilism, etc.

    View full-size slide

  3. Including nuggets of inspiration from…
    Bertrand Russell, Machines and emotions
    Jeff Goldschmidt, Disciplined minds
    Barry Schwartz, Self-determination: The tyranny of freedom
    Sheena Iyengar, The art of choosing
    Ivan Illich, Tools for conviviality
    David Edwards, The lab: Creativity & culture
    Robert Pirsig, Zen & the art of motorcycle maintenance
    Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, Flow
    Martin Heidegger, Being and time
    Marshall McLuhan, The medium is the message

    View full-size slide

  4. I found it quite well-written. Many nice
    excerpts, but I'm quoting only a few.

    View full-size slide

  5. The separation of thinking
    from doing

    View full-size slide

  6. "Rational administration"
    Both Soviet & Western societies are organized according to similar principles
    (1950s sociological analysis; Herb Simon comment on aliens)

    View full-size slide

  7. Taylorism
    Strip know-how and decision-making from workers,
    and concentrate it with the manager
    (What happened to manual work is being translated to knowledge work)

    View full-size slide

  8. Cogs in a machine
    Not a science, but management (politics) masquerading as science
    Fungibility => commoditization (suppress bargaining power)
    The primary concern is not labor time, but labor cost

    View full-size slide

  9. Whence ownership?
    Marxist notion of "abstract labor", and the resulting alienation
    "through work that we recognize our 'species character' […] we get alienated
    from ourselves when the product and the goals of our work are
    appropriated, since it is a manifestation of ones own most human
    possibilities."

    View full-size slide

  10. Schooling as socialization
    Schooling as practice in separating thought from action
    Substituting intrinsic motivation with extrinsic incentives
    (Ivan Illich, Deschooling society)

    View full-size slide

  11. "Irrational behavior" in early capitalism
    What happens when employers boost per-piece remuneration?

    View full-size slide

  12. Difficulty hiring for early assembly-line jobs

    View full-size slide

  13. Cognitive stratification
    From craft knowledge, to process engg. knowledge…
    (same is happening in white-collar work)

    View full-size slide

  14. Standardized and fungible parts
    Push details down, and pull abstractions up

    View full-size slide

  15. To be the master of one's own
    stuff

    View full-size slide

  16. What is the point of work?
    Engage and enhance human faculties as thoroughly as possible
    (fundamentally incompatible with Taylorist principles)

    View full-size slide

  17. What is creativity? \ (two incompatible
    formulations)
    Unleashing creativity through flexibility
    Cultivating competence through submission to a domain, resulting in
    creative skill

    View full-size slide

  18. Submitting to a bureaucracy
    "The [automotive shop] service rep. reepresents not so much mechanical
    expertise as a position taken by an institution, and our spirited man is not
    sure he trusts this institution (mayve they want to sell him a new car). He
    hates the feeling of dependence, especially when it is a direct result of his
    not understanding something."

    View full-size slide

  19. Rational activity choices
    "The idea of oportunity costs presumes the fungibility of human experience:
    all our activities are equivalent or interchangeable once theya re reduced to
    their abstract currency of clock time, and its wage correlate"

    View full-size slide

  20. Active involvement
    "Spiritedness is an assertion of one's own dignity, and to fix one's own car is
    not merely to use up time, it is to have a different experience of time, of
    one's car, and of oneself."

    View full-size slide

  21. Consumerism as the fix for drudgery
    The rise of "consumption engineers" in the early 20th century,
    for scientific management of desire by to create demand for industrial output

    View full-size slide

  22. Consumerism to promote employability
    Boosting consumption is a great way to make people work harder
    Indebtedness and consumption as social signaling as being ready for
    assembly-line drudgery

    View full-size slide

  23. Forces on the consumption side, parallelling
    those on the production side
    "…infantilization at work, and it offends the spirited personality."
    "There seems to be an ideology of freedom at the heart of consumerist
    material culture; a promise to disburden us of mental and bodily
    involvement with our own stuff so we can pursue ends we have freely
    chosen. Yet this disburdening gives us fewer occasions for the experience of
    direct responsibility […] appeal of freedomism, as a marketing hook […]
    points to a paradox in our experience of agency: to be master of your own
    stuff entails being mastered by it."
    *
    "Recurring purchases, after all, may continue even when the alignment of
    interests between producer and consumer is only partial, or even
    accompanied by a felt antagonism [like MS Windows]."

    View full-size slide

  24. What is an intuitive design?
    "[Indicates] minimal pschic friction between the user's intention and its
    realization. It is such resistance that makes one aware of reality as an
    independent thing […] limits need not be physical; the important thing is
    rather that they are external to the self."
    An intuitive interface ensures that nothing disturbs a solipsistic self-
    containement.

    View full-size slide

  25. Betty Crocker cake mix

    View full-size slide

  26. Problem-solving, and tool-use are
    fundamental to human nature
    "…choosing is not creating, however much 'creativity' is invoked in such
    marketing."

    View full-size slide

  27. Education of a gearhead (in
    two parts)
    More autobiographical, with evocative examples from automotive
    maintenance.

    View full-size slide

  28. Contradictions of the cubicle

    View full-size slide

  29. "At issue in the contrast between office work
    and the manual trades is the idea of
    individual responsibility, tied to the presence
    or absence of objective standards."
    (external reality, not arbitrarily imposed)

    View full-size slide

  30. Schumpeter (1942): Expansion of higher
    education beyond labor market demand
    creates for white-collar workers
    "employment in substandard work or at
    wages below those of the better-paid
    manual workers."

    View full-size slide

  31. His experience of writing summary reports of
    research articles

    View full-size slide

  32. Unavoidable moral property of the medium
    of office work
    "the job required both dumbing down and a bit of moral reeducation."
    (fundamental mismatch between intrinsic notion of quality, and the surplus
    maximized by a third party disintermediating the producer from the
    consumer.)

    View full-size slide

  33. Without objective feedback from reality, a
    lot of modern work is basically managing
    relationships and reputations.

    View full-size slide

  34. Problems with the escalating rhetoric of
    "postindustrial society" or "creative
    economy", and how everybody needs higher
    education
    (particularly hard on boys/men)

    View full-size slide

  35. "dispensation of the whole person is at issue;
    one has to have certain personal qualities,
    more than a well-defined set of
    competencies tied to the fulfilment of
    specific organizational ends […] a collection
    of psychological and social aptitudes, that is
    harder to codify […] personality package."

    View full-size slide

  36. Identifying with corporate culture, and
    "buying in" to "the mission" as the primary
    indicators of professionalism

    View full-size slide

  37. Thinking as doing

    View full-size slide

  38. The current educational system assumes
    that "knowing that" is more important than
    "knowing how", corresponding roughly to
    universal knowledge versus the kind that
    comes from individual experience.

    View full-size slide

  39. "Degradation of work is often based on
    efforts to replace the intuitive judgement of
    practitioners with rule following, and codify
    knowledge into [symbols and processes] that
    stand in for situated knowledge."

    View full-size slide

  40. Tacit knoweledge of the chess-master and
    the firefighter

    View full-size slide

  41. Work, leisure, and full
    engagement

    View full-size slide

  42. Instead of work & persnoal lives being
    distinct and transactional, integrate them
    into a coherent whole

    View full-size slide

  43. Money reflects generic potency… good, but
    not intrinsically so. Using it to acquire specific
    goods is cannot imbue work itself with
    meaning, and is more likely to have the
    opposite effect of making us stand apart
    from the job.

    View full-size slide

  44. National identity and/or class consciousness
    as a source of dignity
    "Those at the top of a food chain get a new identity in whcih to take pride:
    [multicultural] sushi-eating, Brazilian-girlfriend-having cosmopolitan. But
    what does the autoworker get as industries lose their national character? It
    is harder to take pride in one's work as 'a Rolls-Royce man', if the car is
    assembled from parts made from who knows where."

    View full-size slide

  45. Any job that can be scaled up,
    depersonalized, and made to answer to
    forces remote from the scene of work is
    vulnerable to degradation
    (The trades, being inherently situated, better resist this externalization)

    View full-size slide

  46. The importance of feedback, including the
    possiblilty of failure

    View full-size slide

  47. Agency directed towards some end affirmed
    by the actor, but embedded in the context of
    an objective reality instead of merely
    subjective preferences.

    View full-size slide

  48. // reveal.js plugins

    View full-size slide