I hope you enjoyed the series and the book. My thanks and congratulations go to everyone who followed. I would be pleased to hear about your experiences through the comments section below.
In this final post I hope to draw the final message of the book together.
Aim of the Book and Series
As noted in the introduction to the book, its aim was to open a discussion that sees narration and aesthetics as central to daily decision-making practices in small scale production processes, be those artisanal working or scientific working situations.
The idea is that people working in such environments learn not only the technicalities of their work, but also co-construct the narrative through which decisions are made and possibilities are granted or excluded. This could be described as the narrative of doing things right, a concept that is constructed within the place of work through daily work talk. It is negotiated and fluid, refers to a shared understanding of a narrative framework and is recognized and codified through the appreciation of the values seen in the product. The narrative allows the framing of the decision-making process and the sharing of a language that allows thos working in the process to talk about it and share their appreciation.
In the case of craftwork, the shared understanding can be seen as expressed through an appreciation of the functional beauty of the work. Each object has its own functional beauty, defined by different criteria and affected by the amount of resources available, objectives and resources, meaning that the appreciation of beauty cannot be transferred from one to another without modification. No two processes are the same, as resources are different, meaning that the construction of their appreciation must also be different, even if the framework through which it is drawn in terms of the narrative is similar.
I call this a form of poiesis intensive production, this shared understanding of aesthetics is a driving force within the decision-making process, as its appreciation leads to the construction of networks of both colleagues and suppliers of materials, technology and tools, ideas and information, that are necessary for the production process.
To summarize; ideas of responsibility, narrative and the aim of the process may be related, I would say intertwined, and talked about in everyday chat at work.
Although in the science lab the language may be different, precision is discussed more than beauty, there are similarities in that precision is functional precision, as beauty is functional beauty. Functional precision relates to purpose and function. It is one facet of a functional goal, very much as beauty is for the upholsterer.
Overview of the Book
The book is divided into seven self-standing chapters, each representing a narrative from a particular perspective. It can be broadly seen as divided into two larger sections. The first section offers a representation of the current state of the art in RI research. Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 4 are all related to this construction, narrating the development of the concept of RI from different perspectives. The construction of this broader narrative (my own RI narrative) leads to the second section, based upon an argument (outlined above) that sees the sharing of a concept of functional beauty in terms of its position within a workplace narrative and its relevance to decision-making processes.
The second section is split into three chapters, the first offering an overview of methodology and argument, followed by two case studies. The first case study involves a furniture restorer in South Manchester (UK) and the second a surgeon developing 3D bio-printing techniques in Utrecht (NL).