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date: 17 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the magic invention of the telegraph. As the first technology to detach communication from slow, physical means of transportation, the telegraph ushered in new ways of communicating and organizing. It also raised questions about competition, control, and politics that are not so different from the ones we struggle with in relation to present-day technological transformations. The telegraph, just like later technological innovations, invites us to think about organization, institutionalization, and social ordering in new ways. By revisiting ideas from the so-called Chicago School—a group of sociologists seeking to make sense of the telegraph and other technological inventions—this chapter connects the past and the future of technology and social ordering.

Keywords: telegraph, social ordering, communication, politics, control, Chicago School

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