The Production of Toolboxes and Hand Tools in Industrial Craft Apprenticeship

Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Modern Craft, 2019
Issue Date:
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This article considers the educational and social significance of specific types of ‘foreigner’ production in twentieth century industrial craft apprenticeship. A ‘foreigner’ is a regionally-specific term referring to a practice whereby workers customarily produce personal objects at work, with the tacit support of tradespeople and supervisors. Foreigner-making is a global phenomenon also known as homers, government jobs, foreign orders and la perruque. The example considered here is the practice of handmaking toolboxes and customized tools during an engineering patternmaking apprenticeship, in the context of twentieth century Australian manufacturing. This article finds that this type of ‘semi-legitimate’ foreigner production was a pedagogical strategy – part of a practical approach to apprentice education – and held particular social significance in the moral economy of industrial workplaces. With this context in mind, the recent business trend towards standardization and factory uniformity can be seen to have negative consequences. More broadly, the article demonstrates the significance of seemingly ‘unproductive’ craft practices in the industrial workplace.
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