Provocative and enlightening, Richard Sennett's The Craftsman is an exploration of craftsmanship - the desire to do a job well for its own sake - as a template for living.
Most of us have to work. But is work just a means to an end? In trying to make a living, have we lost touch with the idea of making things well?
Pure competition, Sennett shows, will never produce good work. Instead, the values of the craftsman, whether in a Stradivari violin workshop or a modern laboratory, can enrich our lives and change the way we anchor ourselves in the world around us.
The past lives of crafts and craftsmen show us ways of working - using tools, acquiring skills, thinking about materials - which provide rewarding alternative ways for people to utilise their talents. We need to recognize this if motivations are to be understood and lives made as fulfilling as possible.
'Lively, engaging and pertinent ... a lifetime's learning has gone into the writing of this book' <br /> Roger Scruton, Sunday Times
'An enchanting writer with important things to say' <br /> Fiona MacCarthy, Guardian
'Enthralling ... Sennett is keen to reconnect thinking with making, to revive the simple pleasure in the everyday object and the useful task. There is something here for all of us' <br /> Edwin Heathcote, Financial Times
'A masterpiece' <br /> Boyd Tonkin, Independent
Richard Sennett's previous books include The Fall of Public Man, The Corrosion of Character, Flesh and Stone and Respect. He was founder director of the New York Institute for the Humanities, and is now University Professor at New York University and Academic Governor and Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics.
In this provocative and timely book, Richard Sennett examines the forces that erode respect in modern society. Respect can be gained by attaining success, by developing talents, through financial independence and by helping others. But, Sennett argues, many who are not able to achieve the demands of today's meritocracy lose the esteem that should be given to them.
From his childhood in a poor Chicago housing project to the contrasting methods of care practised by a nun and a social worker, from the harmonious interaction of musicians to the welfare system, Sennett explores the ways in which mutual respect can forge bonds across the divide of inequality.
Richard Sennett's previous books include The Fall of Public Man, Flesh and Stone and Respect, as well as the two previous volumes in his Homo Faber trilogy, The Craftsman and Together. He was founder director of the New York Institute for the Humanities and now teaches urban studies at the London School of Economics and at Harvard University, and researches labor relations in Columbia University's Center for Capitalism and Society. He has won the Amalfi and Ebert prizes for sociology and in 2006 was awarded the Hegel Prize by the City of Stuttgart.