Summary of Shop Class as Soulcraft

An Inquiry Into the Value of Work

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Shop Class as Soulcraft book summary
An evolved thinker and motorcycle mechanic parses the meaning of manual labor.


8 Overall

7 Applicability

8 Innovation

9 Style


Matthew B. Crawford earned his PhD while working as an electrician and motorcycle mechanic. After receiving his degree, Crawford headed a prestigious think tank in Washington, DC. In only months, he became dissatisfied with the abstract nature of his work and the internal politics that seemed more important than any results. He left and opened a vintage motorcycle repair shop. Working with his hands on intractable mechanical beasts granted him insight into his own intellectual and metaphysical processes. He found working with his hands on complex mechanical problems often more intellectually satisfying than the rigorous intellectual work he earned his doctorate to perform. Crawford decided to investigate his own processes and America’s history of, and attitudes toward, skilled manual labor. Thus, he parses the meaning of labor in the Internet age and bemoans a society where repairing what you own has become a lost art. getAbstract recommends these thoughtful essays to those whose day job doesn’t satisfy their soul, who love motorcycles or who would rather be in a workshop than at a desk.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How and why the nature of work changed in the 20th century,
  • What contradictory impulses you must balance when doing manual labor, and
  • How the powerful correlation between skilled labor and intellectual rigor can redefine work in the Internet age.


Distanced from Your Own Life
If a society no longer values tools and their use, people wind up living at a distance from the “artifacts” that surround them. The old Sears Roebuck catalog, for example, routinely included blown-up diagrams of products and their parts on the assumption that...
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About the Author

Matthew B. Crawford, PhD, once headed a prestigious think tank in Washington, DC. He decided to quit, and today he works as a motorcycle mechanic.

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    Kathleen Holiday 5 years ago
    I enjoyed this book summary. I found it thought provoking and many of the points sadly true. This is normally a book I would have never touched but the summary allowed me to taste something new.
    • Avatar
      Erica Rauzin 5 years ago
      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. It's great to know that we could open that door for you - Erica Rauzin, Managing Editor, getAbstract

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