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  • Finding and Cul­ti­vat­ing the Self in Hair: On the Wizardry of Hairdressers


    Hans G. Bauer and Fritz Böhle

    The key to successfully creating a hairstyle is, of course, the hairdresser's skill. But the art of hair is not limited to instrumental skills, it also includes the 'culturality' of hair. A contemporary critique of a traditional profession.

    All of us have daily, lifelong, often profound rela­ti­ons­hips with our hair, our hairstyles and hair­dressers. In fact, we all know our ways to get along with both — and expect flawless per­for­mance from our hair pro­fes­sio­nals, being familiar with their pro­ce­du­res. However, our recently published book “Haarige Kunst” (2020) widens this view: Being a “good” hair­dresser is not only a matter of the aspects easily visible and reco­gnis­able which we all are familiar with: It is not the ‘what’ but, above all, the ‘how’ that is decisive.

    This puts the focus on some hidden, even concealed com­pe­ten­ci­es: spe­ci­fi­cal­ly, a per­cep­ti­on with all senses, a feeling and sen­si­ti­vi­ty for both, the client and the unique cha­rac­te­ris­tics of hair. Hair itself deserves and asks for special attention. This is demons­tra­ted by its out­stan­ding role in cultural-his­to­ri­cal deve­lo­p­ments and arts — as reported in our book and also shown in an amusing way in the 10-minute edu­ca­tio­nal film “Hair Dress Through the Ages” from 1950.

    Con­si­de­ring the ‘cul­tu­ra­li­ty’ of hair in our book including the myths, sym­bo­lisms, and religious, political and social meanings of hairstyles, we tried to go beyond the surface of the pure act of hair­dres­sing. This also brings to light:  Hair, no matter how it may be ‘domesti­ca­ted’ and ‘treated’, can only be dealt with by accepting the fact that it is a natural opponent to the human efforts to create order. Hair is stubborn and it has got its own will.  We are used to dealing with our hair as an object belonging to us like our clothing, removable, chan­ge­ab­le, in the same way. Yet, hair, however treated, however cut short or arti­fi­cial­ly leng­t­he­ned, however dyed or twisted, is and remains an immediate part of the human body and its personal constitution.

    Being treated or not, hair is not a ‘lifeless’ object. It lives and is a real ‘coun­ter­part’ — and therefore to be unders­tood and treated as such. Expert knowledge and technical skills are undoub­ted­ly of great impor­t­ance in this context. What’s decisive: A ‘good’ hair­dresser, as it appears to us, is a person promoting the ‘art’ of the craft, a feeling and a sen­si­bi­li­ty for the ‘object’ being worked with rather than just on, as a counterpart.

    As it appears, recent dis­cus­sions on the occup­a­tio­nal profile of hair­dressers and their training hardly take this aspect into con­si­de­ra­ti­on – as can be seen by browsing through current occup­a­tio­nal films, for example, “Friseur/in Aus­bil­dung” of the Bavarian Broad­cas­ting Cor­po­ra­ti­on (BR) or “Friseur/in” on BERUFE.TV, the film portal on occup­a­ti­ons of the Federal Employ­ment Agency (BA) in Germany. These films tend to focus on aspects of chemical-phar­maceu­ti­cal knowledge and instru­men­tal skills. There, ‘crea­ti­vi­ty’ is a term used rather fre­quent­ly, but in largely unspe­ci­fic ways when it comes to describ­ing the wizardry of hair­dres­sing. The hair remains a mere object. It seems to us, however, a good hair­dresser finds, leaves and cul­ti­va­tes the self in the hair.

    Hans G. Bauer is a socio­lo­gist and works for GAB Munich, a research institute in the field of voca­tio­nal research and training.

    Fritz Böhle is a socio­lo­gist and head of the research unit for socio-economics in the world of work at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Augsburg.

     

    Refe­ren­ces:
    Bauer, Hans G. and Fritz Böhle (2020), Haarige Kunst. Über den Eigensinn des Haars und das Können von Friseuren, Springer.
    Bun­des­agen­tur für Arbeit (2021), Friseur/in – Berufe.TV

    Hair Dress Through The Ages, Bildungsfilm, 1950 

    Friseur/in Ausbildung, 2019, Bavarian Broadcasting Corporation (BR) 

    Figaro 7, from "Harrige Kunst" Hans G. Bauer and Fritz Böhle

    Figaro 6, from: "Harrige Kunst" von Hans G. Bauer and Fritz Böhle

    Tags

    Finding and Cul­ti­vat­ing the Self in Hair: On the Wizardry of Hairdressers

    Hans G. Bauer and Fritz Böhle

    The key to successfully creating a hairstyle is, of course, the hairdresser's skill. But the art of hair is not limited to instrumental skills, it also includes the 'culturality' of hair. A contemporary critique of a traditional profession.

    All of us have daily, lifelong, often profound rela­ti­ons­hips with our hair, our hairstyles and hair­dressers. In fact, we all know our ways to get along with both — and expect flawless per­for­mance from our hair pro­fes­sio­nals, being familiar with their pro­ce­du­res. However, our recently published book “Haarige Kunst” (2020) widens this view: Being a “good” hair­dresser is not only a matter of the aspects easily visible and reco­gnis­able which we all are familiar with: It is not the ‘what’ but, above all, the ‘how’ that is decisive.

    This puts the focus on some hidden, even concealed com­pe­ten­ci­es: spe­ci­fi­cal­ly, a per­cep­ti­on with all senses, a feeling and sen­si­ti­vi­ty for both, the client and the unique cha­rac­te­ris­tics of hair. Hair itself deserves and asks for special attention. This is demons­tra­ted by its out­stan­ding role in cultural-his­to­ri­cal deve­lo­p­ments and arts — as reported in our book and also shown in an amusing way in the 10-minute edu­ca­tio­nal film “Hair Dress Through the Ages” from 1950.

    Con­si­de­ring the ‘cul­tu­ra­li­ty’ of hair in our book including the myths, sym­bo­lisms, and religious, political and social meanings of hairstyles, we tried to go beyond the surface of the pure act of hair­dres­sing. This also brings to light:  Hair, no matter how it may be ‘domesti­ca­ted’ and ‘treated’, can only be dealt with by accepting the fact that it is a natural opponent to the human efforts to create order. Hair is stubborn and it has got its own will.  We are used to dealing with our hair as an object belonging to us like our clothing, removable, chan­ge­ab­le, in the same way. Yet, hair, however treated, however cut short or arti­fi­cial­ly leng­t­he­ned, however dyed or twisted, is and remains an immediate part of the human body and its personal constitution.

    Being treated or not, hair is not a ‘lifeless’ object. It lives and is a real ‘coun­ter­part’ — and therefore to be unders­tood and treated as such. Expert knowledge and technical skills are undoub­ted­ly of great impor­t­ance in this context. What’s decisive: A ‘good’ hair­dresser, as it appears to us, is a person promoting the ‘art’ of the craft, a feeling and a sen­si­bi­li­ty for the ‘object’ being worked with rather than just on, as a counterpart.

    As it appears, recent dis­cus­sions on the occup­a­tio­nal profile of hair­dressers and their training hardly take this aspect into con­si­de­ra­ti­on – as can be seen by browsing through current occup­a­tio­nal films, for example, “Friseur/in Aus­bil­dung” of the Bavarian Broad­cas­ting Cor­po­ra­ti­on (BR) or “Friseur/in” on BERUFE.TV, the film portal on occup­a­ti­ons of the Federal Employ­ment Agency (BA) in Germany. These films tend to focus on aspects of chemical-phar­maceu­ti­cal knowledge and instru­men­tal skills. There, ‘crea­ti­vi­ty’ is a term used rather fre­quent­ly, but in largely unspe­ci­fic ways when it comes to describ­ing the wizardry of hair­dres­sing. The hair remains a mere object. It seems to us, however, a good hair­dresser finds, leaves and cul­ti­va­tes the self in the hair.

    Hans G. Bauer is a socio­lo­gist and works for GAB Munich, a research institute in the field of voca­tio­nal research and training.

    Fritz Böhle is a socio­lo­gist and head of the research unit for socio-economics in the world of work at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Augsburg.

     

    Refe­ren­ces:
    Bauer, Hans G. and Fritz Böhle (2020), Haarige Kunst. Über den Eigensinn des Haars und das Können von Friseuren, Springer.
    Bun­des­agen­tur für Arbeit (2021), Friseur/in – Berufe.TV

    Hair Dress Through The Ages, Bildungsfilm, 1950

    Friseur/in Ausbildung, 2019, Bavarian Broadcasting Corporation (BR)

    Figaro 7, from "Harrige Kunst" Hans G. Bauer and Fritz Böhle

    Figaro 6, from: "Harrige Kunst" von Hans G. Bauer and Fritz Böhle

    Tags


    The baker's routine gestures: a professional ‘classic’?

    The baker’s routine gestures: a pro­fes­sio­nal ‘classic’?

    In contemporary cinema, we often don’t question seemingly cliché images of bakers at work as seen in Antoine Fontaine's "Gemma Bovery" (2014) or Luke Jin's short film "La Boulangerie" (2017), but perhaps we should.

    Essential Workers vs. Bullshit Jobs

    Essential Workers vs. Bullshit Jobs

    How will the Covid-19 pandemic change the world of work? Will essential workers be more valued in the future or will ‘bullshit’ jobs continue to increase?  

    Plea for autochthone education systems

    Plea for auto­chtho­ne education systems

    'In my blood it runs' (2019) is an intimate portrait of an Aboriginal boy and his family, as well as testimony to the glaring shortcomings of the Australian education system in dealing with their indigenous population.

    Efficiency kills

    Effi­ci­en­cy kills

    US economist William J. Baumol found out why the efficiency principle is killing the service sector - and ultimately contributing to the COVID-19 mortality rate.

    The unsung sing

    The unsung sing

    In the second part of his trilogy about people in unsung professions, "Secondo Me" (2016), Pavel Cuzuioc accompanies three cloakroom attendants at three European opera houses and welcomes the everyday to stage.

    Comparative work studies with the camera: Darcy Lange

    Com­pa­ra­ti­ve work studies with the camera: Darcy Lange

    With his camera, the artist Darcy Lange provided important scientific material on work and education, which still begs to be analysed in social and educational research.

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    About this blog

    By selecting a film or an image, this blog literally illus­tra­tes the vast sphere of work, employ­ment & education in an open collec­tion of academic, artistic and also anecdotal findings.

    About us

    Konrad Wakol­bin­ger makes docu­men­ta­ry films about work and life. Jörg Mar­ko­witsch does research on education and work. They are both based in Vienna. Infor­ma­ti­on on guest authors can be found in their cor­re­spon­ding articles.

    More about

    Inte­res­ted in more? Find recom­men­da­ti­ons on relevant festivals, film collec­tions and lite­ra­tu­re here.

    About this blog

    With picking a film or an image, this blog literally illus­tra­tes the vast sphere of work, employ­ment & education in an open collec­tion of academic, artistic and also anecdotal findings.

    About us

    Konrad Wakol­bin­ger makes docu­men­ta­ry films about work and life. Jörg Mar­ko­witsch does research on education and work. We both work in Vienna. Infor­ma­ti­on on guest authors can be found in their respec­ti­ve articles.

    More about

    Inte­res­ted in more? Find recom­men­da­ti­ons on relevant festivals, film collec­tions and lite­ra­tu­re here.