City Research Online

Repair work as good work: Craft and love in classic car restoration training

Bozkurt, Ö & Cohen, R. L. ORCID: 0000-0003-4560-1590 (2019). Repair work as good work: Craft and love in classic car restoration training. Human Relations, 72(6), pp. 1105-1128. doi: 10.1177/0018726718786552


Repair work is essential if we are to develop environmentally sustainable societies, but repair activity has largely disappeared in advanced economies. Where it survives, work in repair is typically ‘dirty’ and undesirable. This article asks how repair work can be experienced as ‘good work’, drawing on the accounts of 20 trainees on a classic car restoration course. We observe that two features made repair ‘good work’ in their eyes: craft and love. Craft skills enabled trainees to imagine improved employment futures, but also engendered emotional satisfactions. What the trainees emphasized even more was love, in four distinct ways. First, there was ‘object love’ for the classic car. Second, love was evoked as repair reconnected them with ‘authentic’ younger selves. Third, love was claimed to be a prerequisite to do the work. Fourth, love mediated market relationships, connecting repairers and clients in a ‘community of enthusiasm’. Our discussion contributes to studies of workplace emotions, which typically focus on feminized work, by showing how love also matters in experiences of masculine work. Identifying the attractions of repair, we also consider the liminal context of training and highlight the key conditions for the survival and growth of repair as paid ‘good work’.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Bozkurt, Ö & Cohen, R. L. (2018). Repair work as good work: Craft and love in classic car restoration training. Human Relations © 2018 The Authors
Publisher Keywords: classic cars, craft, emotion and work, good work, love, manual skills, masculine work repair, restoration, skills
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
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