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The Craftsman

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  1,066 Ratings  ·  105 Reviews
Craftsmanship, says Richard Sennett, names the basic human impulse to do a job well for its own sake, and good craftsmanship involves developing skills and focusing on the work rather than ourselves. The computer programmer, the doctor, the artist, and even the parent and citizen all engage in a craftsman’s work. In this thought-provoking book, Sennett explores the work of ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 31st 2009 by Yale University Press (first published 2008)
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Dec 30, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sociology of work PhD students
Shelves: non-fiction, craft
I really wanted to like this book, but became increasingly exasperated with it the further I read. I did finish it, but only so that my criticism would be complete.

Anyone with much knowledge of the sciences will be irritated by Sennett's tenuous grasp of basic scientific principles. Any engineer will be exasperated with his conflicting positions between the craft of creating and perfecting machinery, the design and use of tools as part of craft, and the romantic distaste for replacing handwork
I wasn’t going to review this book – not because it isn’t very interesting and well worth reading, but in some ways it like a really smart version of Drive by Dan Pink. That is, humans like autonomy and developing mastery and yet most of modern work denies people access to exactly that. The other bits that are included here and aren’t in Pink’s version have to do with why (that is, Marx and the alienation of labour being the key to understanding capitalism) and the problems of teaching things to ...more
Apr 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: inspiration, art
So happy to find a book that articulates the layered significance of the craftsman throughout history, and the many ways an individual crafts work in his daily life. Intelligently written and more far-reaching than I'd imagined, encompassing economics, cultural history, and corporate politics into its search for what it means to be a craftsman in contemporary society. Sennet is sociologist, and it shows. His writing doesn't always flow like it might if he were more a writer who simply did resear ...more
Nelson Zagalo
This is a masterpiece work on the philosophy of craft education. Sennett goes beyond current knowledge on creativity, art, play, education value and tacit knowledge. This book is a manifesto, full of knowledge, pragmatic knowledge here theorised for the first time.

You can find a longer review on my blog (in portuguese):
Jonathan Norton
Mar 06, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The sort of book in which John Milton is referred to as "the poet John Milton".
First of all, it is exceedingly unfair to write a short, impressionistic review for a book that is meant to be the first of a three volume critique and analysis on material culture intended by Richard Sennett.

But being one of the rare books out there--and I can remember only Donald Schon's 'The Reflective Practitioner' as the last word out there outlining an epistemology of practice--Sennett's new book still warrants a few exciting words despite the caveat as stated. And like Schon's 'The Refle
Jun 05, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Un historiador mencionaba que hasta la aparición de The Principles of Scientific Management de Taylor nadie había considerado al trabajo en sí mismo como algo digno de estudio. Una provocación, sí, pero no tan gratuita. Casi todas las aproximaciones políticas y sociológicas del trabajo en realidad estudian la forma en que se lo organiza institucionalmente, no al gesto técnico en sí. El artesano de Sennett viene a demostrar que uno puede excluir esas consideraciones y seguir manteniéndose a una d ...more
Jeff Van Campen
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sociology
I found it impossible to read this book and not think about my own work as a product manager. As I read Sennett's descriptions of goldsmiths, glassblowers and Linux programmers, I examined the way I work. I asked myself how my work is similar to theirs. I questioned the way I work. I looked in the work of others for ways to improve my own.

Each chapter discusses a different aspect craftsmen and craftsmanship. Sennet draws on philosophy, psychology, sociology, anthropology, science and history to
Brent Wilson
Sep 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is packed with interesting and provocative ideas for me as an instructional designer. Its focus is on the manual crafts, but I'm thinking about the issue of craft more generally and how it competes with general processes and technologies that threaten to overwhelm education. Is education something to be mass-designed and delivered via automatic tools and program - or a craft to be custom-designed and delivered by a pro? The answer is in between somewhere, and I'm exploring how both tec ...more
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bij het lezen van veel boeken heb je het gevoel, dat je bepaalde zinnen moet opschrijven in een citatenboekje. Je bent het hartgrondig eens of oneens met het geschrevene, maar in elk geval wil je het onthouden.
Bij dit boek kan je aan de gang blijven. En in de meeste gevallen was ik het eens met de schrijver.
Hij breekt een lans voor de vakman, die in de moderne tijd steeds minder gewaardeerd wordt. Vaak kijken mensen zelfs neer op handwerk. Sennett geeft aan, wat nodig is voor goed vakmanschap. D
The Craftsman is not, as Richard Sennett might think, a very good book of sociology, but it is a very good book in general for thinking about things and for thinking about how things are made and how and why we make them. He seems like a good-hearted guy, with a sort of William Morris socialist outlook, someone who likes sincerity and who likes carpenters and writers and chefs and architectural draftsmen and Linux programmers and wants us all to work together to make nice things. In terms of pra ...more
Stefan Szczelkun
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Richard Sennett is one of those eminent intellectuals that is humane and intriguing. His writing is discursive and sometimes verges on rambling, but will pull itself back into some kind of shape just as you are about to give up. He gets away with this because his powers of description and analysis are at times acute to the point of being sublime.

This book is an example of class as 'the elephant in the room'. 326 pages on craftmanship and no mention of class as such! As a good establishment figur
Alex Moseley
Sennett made interesting observations on the life and work of the craftsman, but in the end, I was deeply disappointed. Ultimately, he never really descends from his academic perch to stand at the craftsman's workbench. Rather than acknowledging the deeper significance within the life of the craftsman, Sennett seems to be using the experience of the craftsman as a means to his own end, which has nothing to do with craft or craftsmanship.

In Part III he seems to slip into the conceit that the lif
interesting exploration of craft (including related to architecture) but SERIOUSLY flawed. Remarkably poor editing - typos, misspellings, you name it. No bibliography and poor footnotes. Isn't there an irony in a book about craft being so poorly crafted.
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aunque se trata del un autor al que me siento muy cercana, y valoro mucho su concepción de la subjetividad ligada, es más, siendo enteramente corporal, creo que la defensa del trabajo por el trabajo mismo es muy complicada.
Que Sennet detecta muy bien la crisis del individuo moderno es innegable y me parece, parte fundamental de sus aportaciones, que si bien no marcan la ruta del cambio (como los que se llaman a sí mismos marxistas, pero son malos marxistas) muestran con claridad las contradicci
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a prime example of what philosophical analysis of certain concepts can contribute to your everyday life. I am personally convinced that everyone should read this book at least once in their life.

Sennett carefully examines the idea of 'craftsmanship', dissects the cultural practices behind the concept, and introduces his readers to the mindset behind all skillful action. This book will take you on a journey through a plethora of historical and practical examples that guide you to a d
Nov 03, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Picked up this book after seeing it on multiple lists in Designers and Books

Richard Sennett is that prodigious researcher but an awful teacher. My two stars are for introducing me to some wonderful men and women from the past and their unique approach to craft. There were some chapters that were truly insightful and inspiring and made me not give up but the persistent digressions failed my momentum.

As another reviewer commented, I tried very hard to like this book but it does not reward that pa
Tom Calvard
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great theme for a book - and Sennett deals with it in sweeping, erudite style. While I enjoyed it, by the end I felt there was not much left to say or much of a thesis - other than the idea that we humans make stuff and that process of making can be full of thought and meaning. There is a hint of nostalgia and an interesting question I was left with is in wondering how craft work will live on in different forms, today and in the future.
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
El como y el por qué de la artesanía. Lo que ha significado la artesanía y el artesano a través de la historia.
La relación de la artesanía con el entorno y las personas.
En definitiva, un interesante tratado de cómo ver la vida y como relacionarse con todo lo que tenemos a nuestro alrededor con la visión de un artesano.
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
A fine book by a Pragmatist of our day. Sennett explores how the complex interaction of human senses, how learning and development guided by practice and 'touch' lead to expertise of a non-verbal form.
Jul 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I admit, I didn't finish this one, either. But the book was well written and easy to read if you were interested in the history of the craftsman and how it has evolved to programming today.
Kim Zinkowski
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A+. I need to reread this book
Peter Green
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: woodwork
fundamental and profound issues addressed in an overly wordy and contorted way
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic and edifying study of a topic that is literally difficult to but into word.
Eric Adriaans
A book backed by much thought and intelligence, yet still not what I had hoped or expected it to be. There are several good ideas in here but they don’t seem to be unique or uniquely expressed. Only ponderously. Which has its place.
Sett Wai
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In which Richard Sennett, investigates the nature of craft and the craftsman mindset. He does so by comprehensively regarding all aspects of skilled work through history and social process. As a point of departure, the concept of animal laborans(man as mindless labourer) is contrasted against homo faber(man as the maker). Extremely relevant in the modern context in which the application of skilled work and making things well is seemingly devalued in favour of unfocused productivity.

As expected,
Álvaro Arbonés
Nuestro mundo evoluciona más rápido que nuestra capacidad de adaptación. Si en el pasado cada máquina, cada nueva forma de hacer las cosas, requería un largo proceso de desarrollo —siglos al principio de los tiempos, años en épocas tan recientes como el siglo XIX o buena parte del XX— que permitía ir conjugando las formas artesanales con las nuevas tecnologías, en nuestro mundo hipertecnificado ya no queda sitio para el trabajo manual. No porque ya no tengamos manos o la tecnología impida hacer ...more
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A philosophically challenging book written for a general audience. So rare these days. A casual read that still keeps one intellectually engaged.

Sennett here sifts through the history of work in general and craftsmanship in particular, looking for the reasons why quality and care are so forgotten in our society. What he unfolds is a remarkably balanced perspective on capitalism, recognizing its positives and its pitfalls, dwelling in particular on pyramidal power structures and on equality of in
Mar 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lo más atractivo de este libro es lo que hace mas difícil de leerlo, el autor explica distintos conceptos relativos al trabajo con las manos y las herramientas del artesano (entre otras) haciendo analogías y cambiando de contexto (o de dominio como él lo denomina) de un trabajo artesanal a otro. Leí este libro por una recomendación y tenía expectativas de encontrar la historia de los artesanos y cómo iban cambiando su filosofía, valores, y formas de trabajar y organizarse a través de las eras hi ...more
Bob Shadel
Mar 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a different yet overlapping treatment of craftsmanship -- a sociological approach by a sociologist.
It complements several other books in a theme of craftsmanship, quality, worksmanship and philosophy that are also in my book list including
Korn, and Crawford most clearly,

Some important shared concepts:

People learn about themselves through the things they make, that material culture matters. p.8

The connection of working the with hands connects with the had with sustaining habits and a high
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Richard Sennett has explored how individuals and groups make social and cultural sense of material facts -- about the cities in which they live and about the labour they do. He focuses on how people can become competent interpreters of their own experience, despite the obstacles society may put in their way. His research entails ethnography, history, and social theory. As a social analyst, Mr. Sen ...more
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“Craftsmanship names an enduring, basic human impulse, the desire to do a job well for its own sake.” 7 likes
“Issac Stern rule: the better your technique, the more impossible your standards.” 7 likes
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