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Book Launch

Book Launch | Masters of Craft: Old Jobs in the New Economy

05/01 Monday | 6:30pm

NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge invites you to join us for the book launch of Masters of Craft: Old Jobs in the New Economy by Richard Ocejo. The author will be in discussion with Krishnendu Ray and Sharon Zukin.

In today’s new economy—in which “good” jobs are typically knowledge or technology based—many well-educated and culturally savvy young men are instead choosing to pursue traditionally low-status manual labor occupations as careers. In Masters of Craft, Ocejo looks at the renaissance of four such trades: bartending, distilling, barbering, and butchering.

Through his research in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and upstate New York, Ocejo takes us into the lives and workplaces of cocktail bartenders, craft distillers, upscale men’s barbers, and whole-animal butcher shop workers to examine how they are transforming these once-undesirable jobs into “cool” and highly specialized upscale occupational niches—and in the process complicating our notions about upward and downward mobility through work. He shows how they find meaning in these jobs by enacting a set of “cultural repertoires,” which include technical skills based on a renewed sense of craft and craftsmanship and an ability to understand and communicate that knowledge to others, resulting in a new form of elite taste-making. Ocejo describes the paths people take to these jobs, how they learn their chosen trades, how they imbue their work practices with craftsmanship, and how they teach a sense of taste to their consumers.

Richard E. Ocejo is Associate Professor of Sociology at John Jay College and the Graduate Center, City College of New York. His other books include Upscaling Downtown: From Bowery Saloons to Cocktail Bars in New York City and Ethnography and the City: Research on Doing Urban Fieldwork.

Krishnendu Ray is Associate Professor of Food Studies at NYU Steinhardt. Prior to coming to NYU, he was a faculty member and Acting Associate Dean at The Culinary Institute of America. He is the author of The Migrant’s Table: Meals and Memories in Bengali-American Households and The Ethnic Restaurateur, and is co-editor (with Tulasi Srinivas) of Curried Cultures: Globalization, Food and South Asia.

Sharon Zukin is Professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She is the author of Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places, which won the Jane Jacobs Award for Urban Communication; Landscapes of Power: From Detroit to Disney World, which won the C. Wright Mills Award; and Loft Living: Culture and Capital in Urban Change. She is working on a new project on New York’s creative ecosystem on an ARC fellowship at the CUNY Graduate Center.

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