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Auto Mechanics

Technology and Expertise in Twentieth-Century America

Kevin L. Borg

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The history of automobiles is not just the story of invention, manufacturing, and marketing; it is also a story of repair. Auto Mechanics opens the repair shop to historical study—for the first time—by tracing the emergence of a dirty, difficult, and important profession.

Kevin L. Borg's study spans a century of automotive technology—from the horseless carriage of the late nineteenth century to the "check engine" light of the late twentieth. Drawing from a diverse body of source material, Borg explores how the mechanic’s occupation formed and evolved within the context of broad American fault…

The history of automobiles is not just the story of invention, manufacturing, and marketing; it is also a story of repair. Auto Mechanics opens the repair shop to historical study—for the first time—by tracing the emergence of a dirty, difficult, and important profession.

Kevin L. Borg's study spans a century of automotive technology—from the horseless carriage of the late nineteenth century to the "check engine" light of the late twentieth. Drawing from a diverse body of source material, Borg explores how the mechanic’s occupation formed and evolved within the context of broad American fault lines of class, race, and gender and how vocational education entwined these tensions around the mechanic’s unique expertise. He further shows how aspects of the consumer rights and environmental movements, as well as the design of automotive electronics, reflected and challenged the social identity and expertise of the mechanic.

In the history of the American auto mechanic, Borg finds the origins of a persistent anxiety that even today accompanies the prospect of taking one's car in for repair.

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Auto Mechanics

Kevin L. Borg

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Reviews

Reviews

Auto Mechanics provides a superbly researched, engaging look into the profession that's near and dear to us all.

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.

He's... provided a source of inspiration to those who would like to work to improve the industry's image, recruitment and retention.

This is an excellent work that has much to contribute to our understanding of the automobile, technology, and wider trends in American history.

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.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
280
ISBN
9780801894855
Illustration Description
32 halftones
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
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

Acknowledgments
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
Notes
Essay on Sources
Index

Author Bio
Kevin L. Borg
Featured Contributor

Kevin L. Borg

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