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Do it yourself: Just one or two generations ago, this meant picking up a saw or a pair of pliers, plaster and mortar, laying tiles, putting up shelves or connecting the washing machine, generally making the home shipshape. DIY signified active, everyday self-help, economizing by doing it yourself, enjoying carpentry, passing the time. DIY proved the seedbed for a separate, extremely successful market segment – with builder’s and home worker stores, its own magazines and a community of enthusiastic amateurs with technical savvy and craft skills. DIY at its best was the antithesis of an educational system supremely capable of conveying abstract facts, yet imparting no material competence whatever – with workshops or instruction in manual skills the praiseworthy exception.
Today DIY no longer simply stands for a mass movement of people with a practical bent. DIY has become an attitude to the world, political, a retort to luxury and excess, a practical criticism of consumerism and commerce, emerging from a sense of responsibility vis-à-vis global conditions. The new DIY proclaims mass production as contradicting human nature, with goods in bulk quite possibly being produced in dubious conditions. Thanks to DIY, people are turning their backs on such mass products. Strategic rather than mass consumption is the watchword, meaning self-produced rather than bought yourself.
The new DIY means taking life in one’s own hands, doing, selling and choosing oneself, this all locally, at close quarters. DIY brings about a merger of producers and purchasers into ‘prosumers’. It relies on self-help and aims to create capitalism on a human rather than global scale. Micro-credits or self-entrepreneurship, but also joint buying among neighbors or harvesting onions in your own garden, all reflect this trend. “My Logo” as distinct from ‘No Logo’ is the current credo and yet this poses the question: Can complete individualizing of the economy be a solution? Innumerable micro-producers hawking their wares will surely create confusion? The whole variety surely needs to be sorted and organized, to seek for business models and channels.
From home improvement to global improvement – DIY has come a long way. Thinking in terms of smaller and more transparent systems, negotiating commercially in that framework and hence running the world more humanely, could all this be a model for success in future? Such micro-systems can provide a basis for living. Yet does not success also entail growth? Producing, selling, producing more, and selling more, growth... And then? Shall we not arrive back at the point we have already reached? Quite possibly.> Back to overview