Working Knowledge: Skill and Community in a Small Shop

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University of Chicago Press, Jul 27, 1987 - Social Science - 214 pages
A number of years ago, Douglas Harper moved to northern New York to teach in a small college. Upon his arrival there his department chairman noted his eight-year-old Saab and said, "You'll be meeting Willie." Haper spent the next years establishing not only a working relationship but a friendship with Willie. In Working Knowledge, he introduces us to Willie, a mechanic and jack-of-all-trades. With this engaging and insightful profile—part biography, part ethnography, and part photo essay—Harper documents what Willie does and how he does it. Harper's dignified portrait captures a disappearing feature of modern life—the essential human factor in the world of work.

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About the author (1987)

Douglas Harper is professor of sociology at Duquesne University. He is the author of a number of works of visual ethnography and visual sociology—works that use photography as an innovative adjunct to ethnographic description. His books include Good Company, a much-acclaimed photographic portrait and narrative about tramps on the rails; Working Knowledge: Skill and Community in a Small Shop, a portrait of a mechanic and jack-of-all-trades; Changing Works: Visions of a Lost Agriculture, which explores the social world of dairy farmers in upstate New York; Hong Kong: Migrant Lives, Landscapes, and Journeys, a tour of the city's postcolonial urban landscape; and The Italian Way: Food and Social Life, on the role that food plays in the daily activities of Italians from all walks of life. All five of these books were published by the University of Chicago Press.

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