Artisanal poverty, expressive incompetence, contrarianism on a budget, hobbyism in the open, handicraft fandoms

As an aesthetic

See timeless works of art.

Economics of artisanship

On the decreasingly relevant business model of cool. See astroturf and artificial reefs


See making.

DIY as resilience

The connection to prepping and slack.

DIY as a cognitive bias

We find stuff more satisfying if we do it with our own hands. Perhaps irrationally, dysfunctionally dissatisfying (Murphy 2020).

DIY as status signalling

Why is hipster? Nick Whitaker in Better Eats argues

preparing ready-made meals is often met with disdain, especially when home cooking is moralized. This has been particularly prevalent in the “slow food” movement, spearheaded by Michael Pollan and Alice Water. These writers argue that modern food and the system used to create it is ecologically, nutritionally, and morally corrupt. Instead, food should be more thoughtfully prepared from scratch. But, as sociologists Sarah Bowen, Joslyn Brenton, and Sinikka Elliott argue in Pressure Cooker (Bowen, Brenton, and Elliott 2019), this rhetoric has created an undue mystique around home cooking that creates unnecessary pressures on women, particularly those in vulnerable positions. That is even before you consider how dubious the underlying claims are, as Rachel Laudan has explored at length.

And really, aren’t people who cook from scratch the ones being irrational? Economist Ryan Murphy argues (Murphy 2020) that the desire for “DIY” is a manifestation of evolutionary intuitions that make us unduly skeptical of our current technological and institutional environment. This makes us prone to doing costly things ourselves instead of just paying someone else who is better at it to do it for us. Frozen and pre-prepared food seems unnatural, so we take questionable health and moral claims about them for granted. Even claims about home cooking being less expensive are more complex than they might appear, once the opportunity cost of one’s time is fully accounted for—if you don’t enjoy doing it, cooking uses up scarce leisure time that could be spent with family, or watching TV, instead.

Suggestive connection to status signaling in the leisure classes (Currid-Halkett 2017).


Bowen, Sarah, Joslyn Brenton, and Sinikka Elliott, eds. 2019. Pressure Cooker: Why Home Cooking Won’t Solve Our Problems and What We Can Do about It. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Currid-Halkett, Elizabeth. 2017. Sum of Small Things: A Theory of the Aspirational Class. 1st edition. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Martin-Iverson, Sean, U. M. Rodrigues, and B. Smaill. 2008. ‘C’mon Commodify Us!’: Commodity Fetishism and Resistant Practice in the Bandung DIY Hardcore Scene’.” Youth, Media and Culture in the Asia Pacific Region, 177–94.
Murphy, Ryan H. 2020. Markets Against Modernity: Ecological Irrationality, Public and Private. Capitalist Thought : Studies in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books.

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