Manual Forces of Production: A Social History of Industrial Automation

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Noble shows how the system of "numerical control," perfected at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT and put into general industrial use, was chosen over competing systems for reasons other than the technical and economic superiority typically advanced by its promoters. Numerical control took shape at an MIT laboratory rather than in a manufacturing setting, and a market for the new technology was created, not by cost-minded producers, but instead by the U.

Air Force.

Competing methods, equally promising, were rejected because they left control of production in the hands of skilled workers, rather than in those of management or programmers. Noble demonstrates that engineering design is influenced by political, economic, managerial, and sociological considerations, while the deployment of equipment-illustrated by a detailed case history of a large General Electric plant in Massachusetts-can become entangled with such matters as labor classification, shop organization, managerial responsibility, and patterns of authority.

In its examination of technology as a human, social process, Forces of Production is a path-breaking contribution to the understanding of this phenomenon in American society.

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Noble is professor in the department of social and political thought at York University and is best known for his work on the social history of automation. David F. See All Customer Reviews. Andrew L. From Global to Local. Finbarr Livesey. Digital Universe. Peter B. Reskilling America.

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Soil Carbon Dynamics. See all 2 brand new listings. Buy It Now. Add to cart. Noble , Paperback. About this product Product Information Focusing on the postwar automation of the American metal-working industry--the heart of the modern industrial economy--this is a provocative study of how automation has assumed a critical role in America. David Noble argues that industrial automation--more than merely a technological advance--is a social process that reflects very real divisions and pressures within our society.

The book explains how technology is often spurred and shaped by the military, corporations, universities, and other mighty institutions. Using detailed case studies, Noble also demonstrates how engineering design is influenced by political, economic, and sociological considerations, and how the deployment of equipment is frequently entangled with certain managerial concerns. Additional Product Features Dewey Edition. This book will be a classic in the field.

It is truly a definitive work and will doubtless serve to redirect research in the field. This story is fascinating and well told.