A new piece in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences will interest AHP readers: “‘The Machine Takes Our Jobs Away’: The problem of technological unemployment in the work of Chicago sociologist William F. Ogburn,” Emy Kim, Mark Solovey. Abstract:
This paper examines the Chicago sociologist William F. Ogburn’s (1886–1959) views about technological unemployment, which were intimately connected to his analysis of the social impacts of technological developments and resulting social problems due to cultural lag. We trace the development of his views as seen through his well-known 1922 book, Social Change with Respect to Culture and Original Nature, his important contributions to the President’s Research Committee on Social Trends (1933), and his lesser-known pamphlets designed for a broader audience—Living with Machines (1933), You and Machines (1934), and Machines and Tomorrow’s World (1938). He used these pamphlets to educate the public about the dangers of new machines and technological unemployment. In doing so, he drew upon sociological analysis in his professional scholarly writings and his long-standing personal interests in social betterment and social reform. Our analysis also calls into question the adequacy of existing scholarship on Ogburn that has emphasized his commitment to a statistical, dispassionate, and “objectivist” approach to social science research. We call for a revised, richer, and more complex view of Ogburn’s work and legacy as one of the nation’s leading social scientists during the first half of the 20th century.