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BW Businessworld

White Collar, Get Dirty!

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Work, attitude towards work, workplace… Suddenly, all that goes on at work seem to be inspiring thinkers, sociologists and philosophers to introspect and write books on. This book, the latest of such offerings, argues for the skilled work human beings perform using their hands.

Manual trades, author Matthew Crawford argues, are special. They have an intrinsic capacity to offer immense pleasure. The author almost pleads with the modern society to rethink its approach of converting everyone into a knowledge worker. So, it comes as no surprise to know that Crawford, a doctor in political philosophy (Chicago University) who headed a Washington think-tank, gave up his job to open a motorcycle repair shop in Richmond.

Crawford propounds a theory: machines that need fixing pose cognitive challenges in contrast to lot of thinking assignments or white-collar jobs. He appears disturbed at the cut and dry separation of thinking from doing — the work of hands from that of the mind. He says the tacit knowledge a manual worker uses generates a pride that is missing in most desk jobs.

Crawford uses the motorcycle repair shop as a metaphor. He goes on to entice readers to try their hands at any manual trade. The book says manual trades are means of bringing back the value and meaning to lives that are often lived out in their entirety within cubicles or at office desks. So, read the book and be prepared to invest in smart overalls. It is time to take that toolbox out of the closet!

Giraj M. Sharma heads BehindTheMoon, a brand consulting firm

Click To Read The Longer Version Of This Review

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 07-09-2009)