Chachra’s (2015) article, “Why I Am Not a Maker”, defines maker culture as a social value system that continues to place importance on creating artifacts in a capitalistically-driven economy, and reinforces the dominance of men. Chachra argues that traditionally female roles, such as caregivers, educators, and healthcare providers, are further diminished when maker culture is promoted and advanced.
While this perspective may have some legitimacy in the engineering circles that Chachra inhabits, I would argue that maker culture consists of a much larger swath of applications than the coding and technological fields that the author mentions. Making can be highly technical, but it can also be extremely traditional, utilizing such skills as woodworking or welding. Makers are learning how to can food, sew, and knit, all skills that were conventionally in the realm of women’s work.
Chachra asserts that maker culture creates items that “you can put in a box and sell”, but I would propose that it actually is founded on the principle of “do-it-yourself”, which enables the maker to not only learn how to create and customize things, but also to bypass the typical need to purchase goods and services. There is a self-sufficient resiliency at the heart of making that often blossoms into a sharing of knowledge with others.
Because of this knowledge sharing, I believe that maker culture encompasses the exact caregiving roles that Chachra suggests that it devalues. As people communicate the information and skills they have gained through making with their peers, valuable and beneficial knowledge is conveyed, which can then be utilized by the recipients to create and build upon for themselves. This closely resembles education, and by extension, caregiving.
Maker culture is broad, it is creative, and it is collaborative. Rather than denigrating those who are caregivers, I believe that making celebrates many of the time-honored tasks of caregiving, and puts many lost skills, and the ability to manufacture needed or desired objects, back in the hands of everyday people.
Chachra, D. (2015, January/February). Why I am not a maker. The Atlantic, 315(1). Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/01/why-i-am-not-a-maker/384767/