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TechnologyCritical History of a Concept$
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Eric Schatzberg

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226583839

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226584027.001.0001

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Thorstein Veblen’s Appropriation of Technik

Thorstein Veblen’s Appropriation of Technik

(p.118) Eight Thorstein Veblen’s Appropriation of Technik

Eric Schatzberg

University of Chicago Press

In the early twentieth century, American social scientists created a new discourse around the term technology. These scholars, most important Thorstein Veblen, replaced the original meaning of technology as the science of the mechanical arts with a new meaning that denoted the industrial arts in general along with the material means of production. These changes were strongly shaped by borrowings from the German discourse of Technik. Because of this borrowing, technology acquired three layers of meaning: applied science, industrial arts, and technique. Because of its internal contradictions, technology was able to serve as both a reifying concept, concealing human choice and relations of power, and a liberating concept, laying bare these same choices and power relationships. Veblen exemplifies the use of technology as a liberating concept.

Keywords:   social sciences, Thorstein Veblen, industrial arts

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