(2017, Monash Publishing)
"Smart, relevant and witty... Part page-turning narrative, part provocative argument, this is cultural criticism at its best." — Jeff Sparrow, Guardian columnist, broadcaster and author.
"Truly a pleasure to read. A thoughtful and erudite way to set the scene for the discussion to come." — Prof Susan Luckman, University of South Australia.
"A length of wire, in my farm-boy childhood, could fix just about anything. This book has similar miraculous powers. It mixes sociology, science, economics, philosophy anthropology and good old tinkerer knowhow into an illuminating analysis of the clash between old and new ways of work. Full of fascinating insights and fascinating people, this book is a reminder that work is never just work, and can still have a soul." — Mark Davis, author, commentator and academic.
Home-based tinkering — the everyday commitment to material problem-solving — is emerging as a legitimate vocation, in ways we haven’t seen since pre-industrial times. Everyday practices of repair, invention, building and crafting that take place in sheds, back-yards, paddocks, kitchens and home-workshops are an important part of Australia’s informal economy and social cohesion. At a time when the labour-market is failing as a source of security and identity for many, domestic tinkering persists as a resourceful occupation.
Moving between scholarly research and journalistic stories about tinkerers, this book documents domestic tinkering as an undervalued form of material scholarship, social connection, psychological sanctuary, personal identity and political activism. It mounts a surprising case for the profound value of domestic tinkering in historic and contemporary Australia.