Head, Hand, Heart

Why Intelligence Is Overrated, Manual Workers Matter, and Caregivers Deserve More Respect

David Goodhart

Manuscript in English Original publisher: UK: Penguin PressCurrent Affairs

In this follow-up to his bestselling The Road to Somewhere, Goodhart divides society into people who work with their Heads, with their Hands, and with their Hearts, and describes how the status of each group has changed over the last fifty years.

The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 taught us something we ought already to have known. That care workers, supermarket shelf-stackers, delivery drivers, cleaners and farmers are vital cogs in the machinery that keeps us all alive, fed and cared for. Until recently much of this work was regarded as menial by the the same government and media that now lauds it as performed by ‘key workers’. But if they’re so critical to the functioning of society, 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 a 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. Yet thanks to advances in machine intelligence, the knowledge economy will soon not need so many knowledge workers. And all the while there is a crisis of recruitment in much of the care sector.

Goodhart argues that a healthy democratic society must re-imagine skilled work, so that people whose jobs require emotional intelligence and physical dexterity are afforded a similar recognition as workers who manipulate data. Head, Hand, Heart shows that our societies need to re-learn how 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. It tells the story of the central struggle for status and dignity in the twenty-first century.


‘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 and Seven Types of Atheism

‘In this important, impassioned and at times politically incorrect book, David Goodhart makes a sustained argument for human decency. In his view, it’s the disproportionate recognition that our societies pay to cognitive work at the expense of manual and care work that explains much of the current political alienation.’
-IVAN KRASTEV, author of The Light that Failed

‘David Goodhart is among the most insightful analysts of Anglo-American society, and of why the elites in our two countries so badly misunderstand the values, needs, and worth of most citizens. If you dream of a society that is more just and humane, offering more people more routes to dignity, prosperity, and happiness, then you will love Head, Heart, Hand.’
-JONATHAN HAIDT, Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership, New York University, author of The Righteous Mind.

‘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

‘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

‘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: Saving Democracy from the Managerial Elite

‘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, Professor of Politics, University of Kent, author of National Populism

‘Once again David Goodhart has applied his forensic analysis to our social behaviour, this time in the realm of work. The digital revolution saw ‘heads’ rule the roost over ‘hands’ and ‘hearts’. Now Goodhart sees hearts surging forward, the labour of personal services, care relationships, above all local networks and businesses. The pandemic has focused attention away from his globalized ‘anywhere’ people to his ‘somewheres’, loyal to place, community and nation. This he sees as an optimistic future, if only we can recognise and seize it.’
-SIMON JENKINS, Guardian columnist and bestselling author

‘This book is a must read. It is an MRI scan of today’s Britain and we should do broadly what it recommends. David Goodhart rightly diagnoses a failure to esteem ‘heart and hand’ in recent decades as we have prioritised cognitive ‘head’ skills. We need a better balance in the future: a hard-headed understanding that without support for the full range of skills and aptitudes in our educational and social system, we will fail as a society. Equally compelling is his political prescription of ‘modern social democracy plus moderate conservatism’: ‘globalisation but not hyper-globalisation’, as he puts it. The political leader who best grasps the message of Head, Hand and Heart will be the one who succeeds at the next election.’
-ANDREW ADONIS, author of Saving Britain