|Published||1967 (Vol.1) / 1970 (Vol.2) (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich)|
|Media type||Print (2 Vols.)|
|Pages||352 pages (Vol.1) / 495 pages (Vol.2)|
|ISBN||0-15-662341-2 (Vol.1 ) / ISBN 0-15-163974-4 (Vol.2)|
The Myth of the Machine is a two-volume book taking an in-depth look at the forces that have shaped modern technology since prehistoric times. The first volume, Technics and Human Development, was published in 1967, followed by the second volume, The Pentagon of Power, in 1970. The author, Lewis Mumford, shows the parallel developments between human tools and social organization mainly through language and rituals.It is considered a synthesis of many theories Mumford developed throughout his prolific writing career. Volume 2 was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection.
Technology is the collection of techniques, skills, methods, and processes used in the production of goods or services or in the accomplishment of objectives, such as scientific investigation. Technology can be the knowledge of techniques, processes, and the like, or it can be embedded in machines to allow for operation without detailed knowledge of their workings. Systems applying technology by taking an input, changing it according to the system's use, and then producing an outcome are referred to as technology systems or technological systems.
Lewis Mumford was an American historian, sociologist, philosopher of technology, and literary critic. Particularly noted for his study of cities and urban architecture, he had a broad career as a writer. Mumford was influenced by the work of Scottish theorist Sir Patrick Geddes and worked closely with his associate the British sociologist Victor Branford.
"In The Myth of the Machine, Mumford insisted upon the reality of the megamachine: the convergence of science, economy, technics and political power as a unified community of interpretation rendering useless and eccentric life-enhancing values. Subversion of this authoritarian kingdom begins with that area of human contact with the world that cannot be successfully repressed - one's feelings about one's self."
In the Prologue, Mumford defines his purpose here as "to question both the assumptions and the predictions upon which our commitment to the present forms of scientific and technical progress, treated as ends in themselves, have been based."
Mumford dates the emergence of the "Machine" from the pyramid age (primarily with reference to Egypt, but also acknowledging other ancient cultures in that era which produced massive and precisely engineered structures). He uses the term 'Megamachine' to describe the social and bureaucratic structure that enabled a ruler to coordinate a huge workforce to undertake vast and complex projects. Where the projects were public works such as irrigation systems and canals or the construction of cities, Mumford referred to the "labour machine", and where they involved conquest he used the expression "military machine". The term "Megamachine" connoted the social structure in its entirety.
William Manson writes that Mumford differed from other major critics of technology in that "[Mumford] emphasized that the ultimate function of social structures ("society") should be to enhance individual development and mutually beneficial patterns of social cooperation. Living in such conducive, humanly-scaled communities, individuals could develop their many-sided capacities (moral/empathic, cognitive, aesthetic, etc.). Technical means, if limited to these human purposes and values, could enhance such growth and social well-being."Manson describes the dystopian vision of the future that Mumford warned of:
In this volume Mumford discusses the progress of terrestrial exploration, and scientific discovery; and traces the interplay of ideological interests, inventions and subjective drives in the evolution of human society. It expands upon the arguments he earlier promoted in Technics and Civilization (1934), and brings them up to date in the light of social developments in the intervening three decades. In the Preface he writes: "...I have been driven, by the wholesale miscarriage of megatechnics, to deal with the collective obsessions and compulsions that have misdirected our energies, and undermined our abilities to live full and spiritually satisfying lives."
Technics and Civilization is a 1934 book by American philosopher and historian of technology Lewis Mumford. The book presents the history of technology and its role in shaping and being shaped by civilizations. According to Mumford, modern technology has its roots in the Middle Ages rather than in the Industrial Revolution. It is the moral, economic, and political choices we make, not the machines we use, Mumford argues, that have produced a capitalist industrialized machine-oriented economy, whose imperfect fruits serve the majority so imperfectly.
The "Pentagon of Power" refers to five aspects of what Mumford calls "the new power complex" of military and industry in industrialized nation-states:
The "pentagon" was also clearly selected to be in reference to the Pentagon, regarding which Mumford commented: "The concrete form of the Pentagon in Washington serves even better than its Soviet counterpart, the Kremlin, as a symbol of totalitarian absolutism: all the more because this particular megastructure combines a pathetically outmoded Renascence plan with the current wasteful and inefficient facilities for monotransportation by car."Mumford found an important aspect of the Pentagon, as a physical structure symbolizing the object of his critique, the way that it functions as an enclosed "citadel" in which the U.S. military's elite make decisions, cut off from the world in which they act.
The Pentagon, in Arlington County, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense. As a symbol of the U.S. military, the phrase The Pentagon is often used as a metonym for the Department of Defense and its leadership.
Although much of the volume explores the negative influence of centralised power and exploitative behaviour on the human condition, it finishes on a positive and optimistic note in the closing chapters. His final remark is:
William Manson writes that "Ultimately, Mumford advocated a negative revolt — resistance, refusal, withdrawal – whereby individuals may reclaim their autonomy and humanly-derived desires and choices."
Totalitarianism is a political concept of a mode of government that prohibits opposition parties, restricts individual opposition to the state and its claims, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is regarded as the most extreme and complete form of authoritarianism. Political power in totalitarian states has often been held by rule by one leader which employ all-encompassing propaganda campaigns broadcast by state-controlled mass media. Totalitarian regimes are often marked by political repression, personality cultism, control over the economy, restriction of speech, mass surveillance and widespread use of state terrorism. Historian Robert Conquest describes a "totalitarian" state as one recognizing no limits to its authority in any sphere of public or private life and which extends that authority to whatever length feasible.
A society is a group of individuals involved in persistent social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same geographical or social territory, typically subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations. Societies are characterized by patterns of relationships between individuals who share a distinctive culture and institutions; a given society may be described as the sum total of such relationships among its constituent of members. In the social sciences, a larger society often exhibits stratification or dominance patterns in subgroups.
In economics, capital consists of an asset that can enhance one's power to perform economically useful work. For example, in a fundamental sense a stone or an arrow is capital for a caveman who can use it as a hunting instrument, while roads are capital for inhabitants of a city.
Sociotechnical systems (STS) in organizational development is an approach to complex organizational work design that recognizes the interaction between people and technology in workplaces. The term also refers to the interaction between society's complex infrastructures and human behaviour. In this sense, society itself, and most of its substructures, are complex sociotechnical systems. The term sociotechnical systems was coined by Eric Trist, Ken Bamforth and Fred Emery, in the World War II era, based on their work with workers in English coal mines at the Tavistock Institute in London.
Ursula Martius Franklin,, was a German-Canadian metallurgist, research physicist, author, and educator who taught at the University of Toronto for more than 40 years. She was the author of The Real World of Technology, which is based on her 1989 Massey Lectures; The Ursula Franklin Reader: Pacifism as a Map, a collection of her papers, interviews, and talks; and Ursula Franklin Speaks: Thoughts and Afterthoughts, containing 22 of her speeches and five interviews between 1986 and 2012. Franklin was a practising Quaker and actively worked on behalf of pacifist and feminist causes. She wrote and spoke extensively about the futility of war and the connection between peace and social justice. Franklin received numerous honours and awards, including the Governor General's Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case for promoting the equality of girls and women in Canada and the Pearson Medal of Peace for her work in advancing human rights. In 2012, she was inducted into the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame. A Toronto high school, Ursula Franklin Academy, has been named in her honour.
Productive forces, productive powers, or forces of production is a central idea in Marxism and historical materialism.
Social stratification is a kind of social differentiation whereby members of society are grouped into socioeconomic strata, based upon their occupation and income, wealth and social status, or derived power. As such, stratification is the relative social position of persons within a social group, category, geographic region, or social unit.
Harcourt was a United States publishing firm with a long history of publishing fiction and nonfiction for adults and children. The company was last based in San Diego, California, with editorial/sales/marketing/rights offices in New York City and Orlando, Florida, and was known at different stages in its history as Harcourt Brace, & Co. and Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. From 1919 to 1982, it was based in New York City.
Herbert George Blumer was an American sociologist whose main scholarly interests were symbolic interactionism and methods of social research. Believing that individuals create social reality through collective and individual action, he was an avid interpreter and proponent of George Herbert Mead’s social psychology, which he labelled 'symbolic interactionism'. Blumer elaborated and developed this line of thought in a series of articles, many of which were brought together in the book Symbolic Interactionism. An ongoing theme throughout his work, he argued that the creation of social reality is a continuous process. Blumer was also a vociferous critic of positivistic methodological ideas in sociology.
Lynn Townsend White Jr. was an American historian. He was a professor of medieval history at Princeton from 1933 to 1937, and at Stanford from 1937 to 1943. He was president of Mills College, Oakland, from 1943 to 1958 and a professor at University of California, Los Angeles from 1958 until 1987. Lynn White helped to found the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) and was president from 1960 to 1962. He won the Pfizer Award for "Medieval Technology and Social Change" from the History of Science Society (HSS) and the Leonardo da Vinci medal and Dexter prize from SHOT in 1964 and 1970. He was president of the History of Science Society from 1971 to 1972. He was president of The Medieval Academy of America from 1972-1973, and the American Historical Association in 1973.
In sociology, nomos refers to habits or customs of social and political behavior, socially constructed and historically specific. It refers not only to explicit laws but to all of the normal rules and forms people take for granted in their daily activities. It represents order, valid and binding on those who fall under its jurisdiction; thus it is a social construct with ethical dimensions.
The philosophy of engineering is an emerging discipline that considers what engineering is, what engineers do, and how their work affects society, and thus includes aspects of ethics and aesthetics, as well as the ontology, epistemology, etc. that might be studied in, for example, the philosophy of science.
Criticism of technology is an analysis of adverse impacts of industrial and digital technologies. It is argued that, in all advanced industrial societies, technology becomes a means of domination, control, and exploitation, or more generally something which threatens the survival of humanity. Some of the technology opposed by critics includes everyday household products, such as refrigerators, computers, and medication.
A network-centric organization is a network governance pattern emerging in many progressive 21st century enterprises. This implies new ways of working, with consequences for the enterprise’s infrastructure, processes, people and culture.
Anti-oppressive practice (AOP) is an interdisciplinary approach primarily rooted within the practice of social work that focuses on ending socioeconomic oppression. It requires the practitioner to critically examine the power imbalance inherent in an organizational structure with regards to the larger sociocultural and political context in order to develop strategies for creating an egalitarian environment free from oppression, racism, and other forms of discrimination in the larger society, by engaging at the legal and political level. In general community practice it is about responding to oppression by dominant groups and individuals. In social services it regulates any possible oppressive practices and helps in delivering welfare services in an inclusive manner.
Technology society and life or technology and culture refers to cyclical co-dependence, co-influence, and co-production of technology and society upon the other. This synergistic relationship occurred from the dawn of humankind, with the invention of simple tools and continues into modern technologies such as the printing press and computers. The academic discipline studying the impacts of science, technology, and society, and vice versa is called science and technology studies.
Technological determinism is a reductionist theory that assumes that a society's technology determines the development of its social structure and cultural values. Technological determinism tries to understand how technology has had an impact on human action and thought. Changes in technology are the primary source for changes in society. The term is believed to have originated from Thorstein Veblen (1857–1929), an American sociologist and economist. The most radical technological determinist in the United States in the 20th century was most likely Clarence Ayres who was a follower of Thorstein Veblen and John Dewey. William Ogburn was also known for his radical technological determinism.
Post-truth is a philosophical and political concept that refers to "the disappearance of shared objective standards for truth” and the “circuitous slippage between facts or alt-facts, knowledge, opinion, belief, and truth.” Post-truth discourse is often contrasted with the forms taken by scientific methods and inquiry. The term garnered widespread popularity, in the form of "post-truth politics", in the period around the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the U.K. Brexit referendum. It was named Word of the Year in 2016 by the Oxford Dictionary where it is defined as "Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”