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The myth of technocracy: the social philosophy of American engineers in the 1930s

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Engineers have generally been viewed either as members of a ‘middle class’ attracted to a distinctive technocratic politics that rejects the leadership of both labour and capital or as passive servants of capital. Using published and archival data, this article shows that American mechanical engineers during the 1930s were not attracted to technocratic ideas. Instead some supported pro-business ideas, while many others showed an interest in organizing themselves as employees with interests different from business. This example suggests that engineers do not constitute a distinctive, homogeneous middle class, but are, in fact, internally divided by class.

Keywords: New Deal; Ralph Flanders; Walter Rautenstrauch; engineering unions; engineers; middle classes; professions; technocracy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Sociology, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH 44115, USA.

Publication date: 2000-03-01

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