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Minding the MachineLanguages of Class in Early Industrial America$
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Stephen Rice

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780520227811

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520227811.001.0001

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Human and Machine

Human and Machine

Steam Boiler Explosions and the Making of the Engineer

(p.115) Chapter 5 Human and Machine
Minding the Machine

Stephen P. Rice

University of California Press

This chapter examines how steam boiler explosions in America led to the making of the engineer. As a subject in the popular discourse on mechanization, steam boiler explosions offered another opportunity for members of the middle class to conceptualize the relation between mental and manual labor in terms that helped legitimate their social authority. For participants in the popular discourse on mechanization, the conception of the proper relation between human and machine extended by analogy to the proper relation between people who worked with their heads and those they employed, who worked with their hands.

Keywords:   steam boiler explosions, engineers, America, popular discourse, mechanization, mental labor, manual labor, middle class, social authority

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