13.0332 labour-saving devices

From: Humanist Discussion Group (willard@lists.village.virginia.edu)
Date: Tue Jan 04 2000 - 03:56:18 CUT

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                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 13, No. 332.
          Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

            Date: Mon, 03 Jan 2000 10:28:43 -0500
            From: Hope Greenberg <hope.greenberg@uvm.edu>
            Subject: Re: 13.0331 technology on the verge

    Humanist Discussion Group wrote:

    > The first is that "For every new labor-saving device, people report
    > feeling more rushed." I would suppose that the notion of the labour-
    > saving device has been studied historically and sociologically
    > (citations welcome),

    As you wish:
    Cowan, Ruth Schwartz. "More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household
    Technology from the Open Hearth to the Microwave." New York: Basic
    Books, Inc., 1983.

    The study examines how time saving technologies don't always result in
    actually saving time, but also at how the sexual division of labour that
    has been constructed over the past 150 years need not have turned out as
    it did. It raises questions like: If you cook a one-pot meal over an
    open fire, then get a four burner closed stove and are now expected to
    prepare multi-course meals, what time have you actually saved? or Why
    are certain tasks completely industrialized and moved out of the home
    while others are only partially industrialized and remain home-centered?
    This last question is of particular interest as we see shifts in our
    perceptions of what tasks are appropriate for in-home and out of home.
    Though not addressed in this book (it was, after all, published in 1983)
    information technology must certainly be counted now as a shaper of
    change. Education, child care, shopping, cooking, communication,
    telecommuting--all in flux for a variety of reasons--what role does
    technology play in those shifts and how do our preceptions of where such
    activities belong impact how we shape the technology? And what does
    techno-based humanities scholarship have in common with washing socks
    and sweeping floors? Well, lots actually, but you had other questions in
    your post which deserve more attention, so I'll leave this here for now
    and ruminate on those a bit.

    - Hope

    hope.greenberg@uvm.edu, U of Vermont

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