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Tinkering

Australians Reinvent DIY Culture

By Katherine Wilson

‘Like the backyard inventers whose stories she chronicles, Katherine Wilson exudes intelligence, curiosity and skills acquired from a range of disciplines. Smart, relevant and witty, Tinkering introduces us to eccentrics, autodidacts and visionaries, and then reveals how their passions illuminate the contemporary world. Part page-turning narrative, part provocative argument, this is cultural criticism at its best.’ Jeff Sparrow

'A length of fencing wire, in my farmboy childhood, could fix just about anything. This book has similar miraculous powers. It mixes sociology, science, economics, philosophy, anthropology and good old tinkerer know-how 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 soul.​' — Mark Davis

'Truly a pleasure to read. A thoughtful and erudite way to set the scene for the discussion to come.'  — Susan Luckman

At a time when the labour-market is failing as a source of security and identity for many, domestic tinkering is emerging as a legitimate occupation in a way we have not seen since pre-industrial times. In Australia, practices of repair, invention, building, improvising and crafting, that take place in sheds, back-yards, paddocks, kitchens and home-workshops, are becoming an important part of the informal economy and social cohesion, complicating distinctions between work and leisure, amateur and professional, production and consumption.

Building on the work of historians, sociologists, psychologists and economists, but with a journalist’s impulse for the currency of her story, Katherine Wilson documents domestic tinkering as an undervalued form of material creativity, social connection, psychological sanctuary, personal identity and even political activism. Tinkering: Australians Reinvent DIY Culture mounts a surprising case for the profound value of domestic tinkering in contemporary Australia.

About the Author

Katherine Wilson is an author, editor, and award-winning journalist, who also teaches and researches in the university sector, where she has a PhD in cultural studies. Her feature articles have appeared in the Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Conversation, Australian, Courier-Mail, Art Monthly, Crikey.com, New Matilda, the Law Institute Journal and Good Weekend. Her essays have appeared in journals including Griffith Review, Meanjin, Eyeline, Eureka Street and Overland. She edited Overland between 2002 and 2007 and has worked in advocacy roles for non-profit and environmental bodies.

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