Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Joy in Labour: The Politicization of Craft from the Arts and Crafts Movement to Etsy

Document type Article
Author Krugh, Michele
Journal Canadian Review of American Studies
Volume 44
Date 2014-08-22
ISSN 1710-114X
Pages 281-301


Since the time of the Arts and Crafts movement of the late nineteenth century, craft production and consumption has been politicized. Craft’s focus on hand making has been used to contrast intentional, individual labour with the division of labour involved in industrial mass production. Through its mission to build a more fulfilling world through ethical commerce, craftsmanship, and fun, the contemporary e-commerce site Etsy participates in the discourse of politicized craft that was articulated over a hundred years ago by William Morris, with his dream of “joy in labour.” While craft’s individualism can limit its political effectiveness, craft’s utopian impulse to build a better world through more fun and through labour that is more fair is a valuable ideal and one that has survived for more than a century.