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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

No room for true craftsmanship in the modern world of mass production

There is no room for true craftsmanship in the modern world of mass production.

To a larger extent than not, I agree with this statement.

I say this based on my experiences with hand-made and mass-produced things.

In my house there is a set of furniture handed down by my great-grandparents. In spite of more than a hundred years old, the one table and four chairs of this set are in immaculate condition. It is obvious a lot of care had been given in making these beautiful pieces. I cannot detect a single nail in them. The wood used is teak and the table and chairs are still sturdy. In fact I would say that they are sturdier than some new ones. They are products of real craftsmanship.

In my house too are some tables and chairs break after a few months. The wooden ones show signs of slip-shod workmanship and judging by the rate of wear and tear, they will be useless long before the hand-made ones.

The craftsmen of yesteryears made things of high quality. Also they made them to last a long time. Mass-produced things cannot have such high quality and they do not last long. I suspect that manufacturers of mass-produced thing purposely make things not to last so that the consumers will be forced to keep buying new ones. It is good business for them, not so for the consumers though.

Another thing about mass production is that the workers are generally not skilled craftsmen. They are merely employed to operate machines or do some routine work. No creativity is necessary or encouraged. They just do as they are told, and that is to produce as much as possible as cheaply as possible. On the other hand a craftsman is usually not very much concerned about how much profit he will make. He is more concerned about how well he makes something. He has to be creative and skillful. Thus the product of his work is what we admire as craftsmanship. He may not get much for his work, but for him satisfaction is not so much in money but in a job well done.

Modern radios, tape recorders, cars, furniture, computers and other goods are made only to attract buyers. They last only until the manufacturers come out with newer ones with more gimmicks and features. It is an on-going game played by manufacturer on gullible consumers. Their advertisements are basically: “buy, buy, keep buying our products.” So the consumers keep buying and buying. The craftsmen and their laboriously slow ways are forgotten.

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