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Technology and the Search for Progress in Modern Mexico$
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Edward Beatty

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780520284890

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520284890.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 27 June 2022

Sewing Machines

Sewing Machines

(p.83) Four Sewing Machines
Technology and the Search for Progress in Modern Mexico

Edward Beatty

University of California Press

Sewing machines provide the first of three detailed case studies. Sewing machines represent a class of small-scale, multiuse technologies, typically sold as products themselves and integrated into production systems in households, workshops, and factories. Sewing machines arrived early in Mexico, and by the 1870s, they were diffused widely across urban and rural Mexico and become nearly ubiquitous by the century’s end. The Singer Company was not alone, but it dominated the market. Sewing machines were adopted by thousands of women in their homes and by men in workshops and new clothing factories. They made possible a rapidly growing sector for ready-made clothing, marketed to middle-class Mexicans in department stores across the country. But this was a fragile diffusion. Adoption was highly sensitive to economic downturns, and use of the machines was dependent on access to spare parts and repair expertise, which was often difficult to come by. Their consumers quickly mastered the ability to use sewing machines, but learning did not extend to a ready ability to repair, modify, and replicate them.

Keywords:   sewing machines, Singer Sewing Machine Company, consumption, ready-made clothing, seamstresses, households, machine repair

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