Craft Expertise

Challenging the negative perceptions of craft expertise to build on expertise in contemporary craft practice, and provide the underpinning research to address inequalities in the sector.

Craftperson in a workshop

Researcher

Dr Karen Patel

Research background 

This two-year RCUK Innovation Fellowship focusing on the politics of expertise and diversity in the craft economy, and is in collaboration with Crafts Council UK. Developing initial work in an AHRC-funded Creative Economy Engagement Fund (CEEF) project which examined how social media can support diversity in craft, the Fellowship intends to develop intellectual, practical and policy contributions pertaining to issues around diversity and skills development in craft.

Research aims 

The research seeks to problematise existing notions of expertise in relation to the craft economy, challenging notions of amateur, feminised, home based craft activities which are perceived to require a lower level of expertise compared to masculinised forms of craftsmanship, such as those lauded in Richard Sennett’s The Craftsman. By addressing the framing of expertise in craft, this research will contribute to knowledge on expertise in contemporary craft practice, and provide the underpinning research to address inequalities in the sector.

Research methods 

The methods include an ethnography of makers in a range of spaces, settings and practices. The ethnography will consist of observation within spaces and settings, social media analysis and interviews with makers.

Research outcomes 

The project has resulted in a number of outputs, including: