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Tinkering

Australians Reinvent DIY Culture

By Katherine Wilson

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.

'A rich world emerges in this well-crafted and well-researched book. The journalistic writing belies the deep theorisation of the topic, and Wilson moves fluidly among theoretical, ethnographic and narrative elements to make an original study of maker culture. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.'  — Kirsty Robertson

About the author

Katherine Wilson is an author, editor, graphic designer 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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