The Master Spirit of the Age: Canadian Engineers and the Politics of Professionalism

By J. Rodney Millard

© 1988

Creators of the modern industrial state, engineers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were part of a rising force or urban, middle-class experts. The vanguard of this élite, engineers embraced a vision of a new social order and believed that as society's natural leaders their special destiny was to solve social problems with engineering methods.
Unfortunately, this perception of engineers was not adopted by others, and engineers felt unrecognized and unrewarded. While they possessed expertise essential to industry, as salaried employees living on fixed incomes they could neither control their professional lives nor protect themselves from competition. Unlike the practice of law and medicine, engineering had no legal standing; anyone could practise.
In this study of the profession as it evolved in Canada, J. Rodney Millard explores the issues that shaped engineers' perceptions of their work and its place in society. He explains how engineers, determined to raise their status, adopted a strategy of professional development. They organized engineering schools, societies, and journals, and ultimately obtained licensing and regulatory powers. Established to restrict competition and monopolize practice, licensing laws were a collectivist assault on the ideals of laissez-faire. Licensing associations represented the triumph of young protectionist engineers over older free market proponents. This victory heralded the rise of an aggressive, self-confident new middle class in Canada and the western world.
Focusing on engineers, rather than engineering, Millard offers a social history of an important group of organized civil engineers and their struggle to obtain power and prestige. It is the story not so much of how engineers changed society, but how they survived the change through collective action.
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Product Details

  • Series: Heritage
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 248 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.5in x 9.3in
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SKU# SP005723

  • PUBLISHED DEC 1988

    From: $21.71

    Regular Price: $28.95

    ISBN 9781487579128
  • PUBLISHED DEC 1988

    From: $21.71

    Regular Price: $28.95

Quick Overview

Focusing on engineers, rather than engineering, J. Rodney Millard offers a social history of an important group of organized civil engineers and their struggle to obtain power and prestige. It is the story not so much of how engineers changed society, but how they survived the change through collective action.

The Master Spirit of the Age: Canadian Engineers and the Politics of Professionalism

By J. Rodney Millard

© 1988

Creators of the modern industrial state, engineers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were part of a rising force or urban, middle-class experts. The vanguard of this élite, engineers embraced a vision of a new social order and believed that as society's natural leaders their special destiny was to solve social problems with engineering methods.
Unfortunately, this perception of engineers was not adopted by others, and engineers felt unrecognized and unrewarded. While they possessed expertise essential to industry, as salaried employees living on fixed incomes they could neither control their professional lives nor protect themselves from competition. Unlike the practice of law and medicine, engineering had no legal standing; anyone could practise.
In this study of the profession as it evolved in Canada, J. Rodney Millard explores the issues that shaped engineers' perceptions of their work and its place in society. He explains how engineers, determined to raise their status, adopted a strategy of professional development. They organized engineering schools, societies, and journals, and ultimately obtained licensing and regulatory powers. Established to restrict competition and monopolize practice, licensing laws were a collectivist assault on the ideals of laissez-faire. Licensing associations represented the triumph of young protectionist engineers over older free market proponents. This victory heralded the rise of an aggressive, self-confident new middle class in Canada and the western world.
Focusing on engineers, rather than engineering, Millard offers a social history of an important group of organized civil engineers and their struggle to obtain power and prestige. It is the story not so much of how engineers changed society, but how they survived the change through collective action.
Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Heritage
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 248 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.5in x 9.3in
  • Author Information

    J. RODNEY MILLARD is Assistant Professor of History, University of Western Ontario.