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date: 21 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article begins by reviewing two major clusters of research on technical work, both developed after World War II when the employment of scientists and engineers began to attract attention. The first cluster, called the Weberian literature, emerged in the 1950s when industrial sociologists were actively exploring the implications and limitations of Weber's theory of bureaucracy. The second cluster ascended during the 1970s, drew its inspiration primarily from Marx and later Braverman, and focused on questions about the place of technical occupations in the class structure. This article shows how sociology's tendency to place theory before description has left anemic images of technical work. It lays out a research agenda for the development of substantive knowledge of technical work and its social organization, drawing eclectically on more recent studies that have taken steps toward a more comparative, grounded, situated and emic understanding of what technical work entails.

Keywords: World War II, Weberian literature, industrial sociologists, bureaucracy, technical occupations

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