For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

The Craftsman

by Sennett, Richard (2008)


Why do people work hard, and take pride in what they do? This book, a philosophically-minded enquiry into practical activity of many different kinds past and present, is about what happens when people try to do a good job. It asks us to think about the true meaning of skill in the 'skills society' and argues that pure competition is a poor way to achieve quality work. Sennett suggests, instead, that there is a craftsman in every human being, which can sometimes be enormously motivating and inspiring - and can also in other circumstances make individuals obsessive and frustrated. The Craftsman shows how history has drawn fault-lines between craftsman and artist, maker and user, technique and expression, practice and theory, and that individuals' pride in their work,

Key Passage

When W. Edwards Deming first put forward in the 1960s his views on ‘‘total quality control’’ for organizations, the pursuit of quality seemed a frill to many profit-driven corporation executives. Deming put forward such nostrums as ‘‘The most important things cannot be measured’’ and ‘‘You can expect what you inspect’’; the Deming-Shewhart cycle for quality  control  is  a  four-step  process  that  investigates  and  discusses before setting to work. Hard headed managers preferred the practical experiments on worker motivation by Elton Mayo and his colleagues at the  Western  Electric  Company  in  the  1920s.  What  most  stimulated workers to achieve higher productivity, Mayo found, was simply being noticed as human beings. But Mayo did not focus on the quality of the objects these workers produced or on their critical faculties. Mayo’s business clients were more interested in obedience than quality; happy workers keep at their tasks and do not go on strike. (p.241)


Craft, Craftsmanship, Skill, Art, Pride, Technique, Heidegger, Work Quality, Meaningful Work, Artist, Communication



Links to Reference



How to contribute.