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Auto Mechanics


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I found the history fascinating and was glad to see [Borg] addressed workplace issues I hear about all the time... Although there is a lot of overlap of car/truck mechanics with manufacturing workers we represent who build and fix equipment (machinists, tool & die makers, electricians, etc.), they are a different craft with their own set of issues. -- Neil Gladstein, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers

Table of Contents

Introduction: Technology's Middle Ground
1. The Problem with Chauffeur-Mechanics
2. Ad Hoc Mechanics
3. Creating New Mechanics
4. The Automobile in Public Education
5. Tinkering with Sociotechnical Hierarchies
6. Suburban Paradox: Maintaining Automobility in the Postwar Decades
7. "Check Engine": Technology of Distrust
Conclusion: Servants or Savants? Revaluing the Middle Ground
Essay on Sources

About the Author

Kevin L. Borg is an associate professor of history at James Madison University.


Auto Mechanics provides a superbly researched, engaging look into the profession that's near and dear to us all. -- John Lypen Motor Magazine Borg's own work in the repair shop infuses the study with insights that I am sure would escape anyone without the experience he has had... His questions are anything but academic. -- Steve Thompson AutoWeek He's... provided a source of inspiration to those who would like to work to improve the industry's image, recruitment and retention. -- Steve Relyea Import Automotive Parts & Accessories This is an excellent work that has much to contribute to our understanding of the automobile, technology, and wider trends in American history. -- Amy Gangloff Michigan Historical Review In seven richly detailed chapters, theoretically sophisticated and attentive to nuances of race, class, and gender, Borg analyzes the changing background, training, and expertise of auto mechanics over the course of the twentieth century. -- Joseph J. Corn Technology and Culture A wonderfully insightful study of the emergence and evolution of a contingent occupation and the meaning that that position had on both the people who did the work and those who procured the workers' services. -- Lisa M. Fine Labor History Auto Mechanics is an important contribution to U.S. labor and economic history and to our understanding of the ways that the mass production of automobiles changed working life. -- Andrew E. Kersten Journal of American History Well-written and well-researched... will be read with interest by all scholars of modern America. -- David Blanke Register of the Kentucky Historical Society Auto Mechanics sheds new light on the history of the automobile that top-down and bottom-up studies alike have missed. Call it a 'history from the middle-out,' if you will. -- Walter L. Elden IEEE Technology and Society Magazine Kevin Borg's Auto Mechanics is a finely researched, rich social history. -- Thomas A. Castillo Enterprise and Society Borg's Auto Mechanics will strongly appeal not only to those with an interest in this particular group, but also more generally to scholars working on the connections among material culture, labor, and the history of technology. -- Robert Buerglener American Quarterly Borg's history of technology, expert knowledge, training, recruitment, and reproduction of social inequality is elegantly crafted and seamlessly narrated... Given the centrality of the rise of the automobile to 20th-century American history, his book could be taught to undergraduate or graduate students in courses on sociology and the history of technology, as well as courses focused on industrialization, labor, or gender. -- Karla A. Erickson Work and Occupations Borg's careful attention to issues of race and gender, and his ability to draw connections between larger social movements and technological change makes Auto Mechanics a valuable contribution to a new generation of scholarship on the automobile, one that marries social history and the history of technology. -- Kathleen Franz Journal of Social History

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