Teknikens befäl : En etnologisk studie av teknikuppfattning och civilingenjörer : [an ethnological study of the understandings of technology and engineers]

Sammanfattning: The purpose of this Thesis is to analyse technology as a domain for knowledge and cultural experience among Swedish engineers during the 20th century. The aim is to examine how the concept of technology and the engineering profession are related in literature and films as well as in biographies, written by engineers themselves. Ever since engineering and technology became recognised as an independent field of knowledge at the end of the 18th century, engineers have been seen as key actors in the industrialisation and modernisation of Sweden, as indeed also in other Western countries. The idea of technology thus can be looked upon as a symbol for modernity and the engineers as creators and managers of this idea. The main material for this study consists of life-history scripts and biographies written by around seventy engineers for Nordic Museum (Nordiska museet) in Stockholm. Using themes such as willingness to break away and change, future-orientation and rationality, the thesis discusses how individuals deal with, and describe, their supposed role in Swedish modernity. Other important materials used are films and literature that show the image of technology and the engineering profession in popular culture. The founding of a royal academy of engineering sciences (Kungliga Ingenjörsvetenskapsakademien) and a technical museum (Tekniska museet) around 1920 were important steps in the professionalisation ofengineering in Sweden. Their importance in the understanding of the concept of technology and engineering is discussed. There are three theoretical perspectives in this thesis: modernity, gender and class. The thesis is an analysis of modernity as a cultural construction, which is related to class and gender, with Swedish engineers as examples. The material shows how engineers are clearly orientated to values central to modernity, viz. the individual's responsibility and possibilities, future-orientation and rationality. The engineers' life-history scripts reveal that these are values they expect from themselves. The engineers belong mainly to the upper middle-class. This thesis discusses how middle-class values am transferred and reproduced in the educational situation as well as in their professional role. Technology has been, and still is, a male domain. This study analyses how technology culturally expresses masculinity, and what strategies women use when entering and positioning themselves in this field.

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