Launch of “Head Hand Heart The Struggle for Dignity and Status in the 21st Century” by David Goodhart

  • Wednesday, 16 September, 2020
    17:00 - 18:30


Rt Hon Lord Adonis
former Secretary of State for Transport

Madeleine Bunting
former Associate Editor, The Guardian

Daniel Susskind
Economist and coauthor of The Future of Professions

Nick Timothy
former Joint Downing Street Chief of Staff

Chaired by David Goodhart
Head of Demography, Immigration & Integration at Policy Exchange


The coronavirus pandemic taught us something we ought already to have known: that care workers, supermarket shelf-stackers, delivery drivers and cleaners are doing essential work that keeps us all alive, fed and cared for. Until recently much of this work was regarded as menial by the same society that now lauds them as ‘key workers’. Why are they so undervalued? In this timely and original analysis, David Goodhart divides human aptitudes into three: Head (cognitive), Hand (manual and craft) and Heart (caring, emotional). It’s common sense that a good society needs to recognise the value of all three, but in recent decades they have got badly out of kilter. Cognitive ability has become the gold standard of human esteem. The cognitive class now shapes society largely in its own interests, by prioritizing the knowledge economy, ever-expanding higher education and shaping the very idea of a successful life. To put it bluntly: smart people have become too powerful. Head, Hand, Heart tells the story of the cognitive takeover that has gathered pace over the past forty years. As recently as the 1970s most people left school without qualifications, but now 40 per cent of all jobs are graduate-only. A good society must re-imagine the meaning of skilled work, so that people who work with their hands and hearts are valued alongside workers who manipulate data. Our societies need to spread status more widely, and provide meaning and value for people who cannot, or do not want to, achieve in the classroom and the professions. This is the story of the central struggle for status and dignity in the twenty-first.