A TIMELY AND PROVOCATIVE ARGUMENT FROM LEADING POLITICAL ANALYST DAVID GOODHART ABOUT THE SEVERELY IMBALANCED DISTRIBUTION OF STATUS AND WORK IN WESTERN SOCIETIES.
The coronavirus pandemic revealed what we ought to have already known: that nurses, caregivers, supermarket workers, delivery drivers, cleaners, and so many others are essential. Until recently, this work was largely regarded as menial by the same society that now lauds them as heroes. How did we get here?
In his groundbreaking follow-up to the bestselling The Road to Somewhere, David Goodhart divides society into people who work with their Heads (cognitive work), with their Hands (manual work), or with their Hearts (caring work), and considers each group’s changing status and influence. Today, the “best and the brightest” trump the “decent and hardworking.” Qualities like character, compassion, craft, and physical labor command far less respect in our workforce. This imbalance has led to the disaffection and alienation of millions of people.
David Goodhart reveals the untold history behind this disparity and outlines the challenges we face as a result. Cognitive ability has become the gold standard of human esteem, and those in the cognitive class now shape society largely in their own interest. To put it bluntly: smart people have become too powerful.
A healthy democratic society respects and rewards a broad range of achievement, and provides meaning and value for people who cannot—or do not want to—achieve in the classroom and professional career market. We must shift our thinking to see all workers as essential, and not just during crises like the coronavirus pandemic. This is the dramatic story of the struggle for status and dignity in the 21st century.
About the Author
David Goodhart is one of the most distinctive and influential contemporary political analysts. He worked for the Financial Times for twelve years before founding Prospect magazine in 1995. He now leads the demography unit for the Policy Exchange think tank. His book The British Dream: Successes and Failures of Post-War Immigration was runner up for the Orwell book prize. In bestselling book The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics, Goodhart identified the value divisions in western societies that help explain Brexit, Trump, and the global rise of populism.
“Inequality of opportunity and redistribution of income are common topics of debate. In Head, Hand, Heart, David Goodhart, one of the most insightful and provocative thinkers of our time, compels us to think about inequality of dignity and redistribution of respect.” —Michael Lind, author of The New Class War
“Head, Hand and Heart describes a dangerous concentration of cultural and economic power in a stratum of society that is selected on very narrow grounds, and gives a little weight to experience. The cognitive elite becomes a self-certifying apparatus ever more insulated from the lives and concerns of the majority,resulting in a form of cultural authority that is basically clerical. David Goodhart means to start a reformation. With great clarity and unfailing sympathy for the human condition, he charts a path toward a society in which a fuller range of aptitudes will receive the recognition they are due.” —Matthew Crawford, New York Times bestselling author of Shop Class as Soulcraft
"Books like this one are typically written for audiences who prize the world of "the head" above all. David Goodhart shows us the error of our ways, asking us to challenge our own preconceptions and what we value and why at a critical national and global moment. Head, Hand, Heart is urgent, compelling, and necessary." —Anne Marie-Slaughter, CEO, New America, author of The Chessboard and the Web
In his new book David Goodhart spells out a new political outlook, which combines a social democratic concern for fairness with a conservative respect for the family, local community and the nation-state. Challenging the economic and cultural liberalism that dominated much of the political spectrum for many years, Goodhart argues compellingly that an overvaluation of the role of cognitive elites in government and society has blinded us to the importance of the caring professions and vocations based on practical skills. Presenting an agenda that has become all the more urgent since the pandemic, Head, Hand and Heart is a powerful successor to Goodhart's hugely influential Road to Somewhere. For anyone concerned with the state of politics and society, this is a real must-read. —John Gray, author of Straw Dogs
“David Goodhart is one of Britain’s most influential thinkers because he has consistently asked and answered questions that underpin our polarised era and which too many shy away from exploring. Head, Hand, Heart is classic Goodhart – compelling, challenging, evidence-led. It throws light on how our social fabric is coming apart and why some groups have good reason to feel left behind and left out. When people ask me how we can fix our divided societies I give them two words: read Goodhart’. —Matthew Goodwin, Sunday Times bestselling author of National Populism
"A thoughtful, commanding analysis that applauds essential workers and cognitive diversity." —Kirkus Reviews
“A provocative and probing account… a deeply felt and persuasive call for rethinking the social order.” —Publishers Weekly
“Utterly compelling . . . Goodhart is one of the most important intellectuals in the country, if not Europe. He has consistently been ahead of the curve, no doubt because of his willingness to point out flaws in our liberal consensus before it was fashionable to do so. . . . Goodhart has thus written something of an unofficial sequel to Michael Young’s The Rise of the Meritocracy, published in 1958, which warned that Britain would morph into what it is today, a broken society led by an insular, self-interested cognitive elite that has lost touch with the wider country.” —The Sunday Times
"Head Hand Heart is one of the better attempts to voice the predicament of those whose dream — to live an ordinary, decent life — is often thwarted by a cognitive-obsessed society that disdains those who are not natural exam-passers. Pleasingly, Goodhart’s book makes the case for a recalibration of Britain’s economic priorities, while eschewing the chip-on-the-shoulder clichés that ruin so many other contemporary anti-establishment tracts.” —The Spectator
“Goodhart makes a strong case for reviving the status of work outside the ‘knowledge economy’, as the age of automation approaches . . . Goodhart explores what he argues is the dark underside to this sociological revolution, via interviews, anecdotes and an impressive depth of research.” —The Guardian