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Dynamics of Innovation: The Expansion of Technology in Modern Times

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Dynamics of Innovation

The Expansion of Technology in Modern Times

François Caron
Translated from the French by Allan Mitchell†

272 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-0-85745-723-3 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (April 2013)

ISBN  978-1-78533-036-0 $29.95/£23.95 Pb Published (November 2015)

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“…offers a series of fascinating vignettes tied together by a satisfactory thesis about the commonalities associated with the evolving nature of technological innovation.” • The Historian

“To integrate the slow evolution of medieval know-how and the current explosion of information technologies into one analysis is a challenge magnificently met by the historian François Caron.” • Gerard Moatti, Les Echos.


BEST KNOWN AS THE LEADING HISTORIAN OF FRENCH RAILWAYS, François Caron has also conducted significant research on other aspects of economic development in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, such as electricity, water and steam power, the theory of innovation, and the structure of enterprise. In this volume, he brings together different facets of his expertise to present a broad panorama of modern technological history. Caron shows how artisanal know-how was adapted, expanded, and formalized during the three industrial revolutions that swept over Great Britain, France, Germany, and the United States, resulting in a comprehensive analysis of this long, complex, and continuous historical process, leading up to the twenty-first century. He thereby illustrates the increasingly fruitful interaction between technological and scientific knowledge in modern times.

François Caron is Professor Emeritus at the University of Paris IV, where he taught from 1976 to 1998. His many publications include An Economic History of Modern France (1979) and Histoire des chemins de fer en France (vol 1, 1997; vol 2, 2005).

Allan Mitchell received his PhD from Harvard in 1961, then taught at Smith College (1961-1972) and the University of California, San Diego (1972-1992). His most recent book was The Devil’s Captain: Ernst Jünger in Nazi Paris, 1941-1944 (Berghahn Books, 2011).

Subject: History (General)


Translator’s Preface


Chapter 1. The Artisanal Mode of Knowledge
Industrial Framework: The World of Trades
Artisanal Knowledge and the Arc of Experience
The Interaction of Trades
Circulation of Knowledge

Chapter 2. From Artisan to Expert
The Appropriation of Artisanal Knowledge
The Role of Writing
Knowledge of Experts

Chapter 3. Formalized Knowledge
The Professional Engineer
The Industrial Enterprise
Science and Utility: The Other Revolution
Practice and Theory

Chapter 4. Technological Adventures
The Production of Energy
The Mechanization of Industry
Birth of the Mechanical Industry
The Chemical Industry


Chapter 5. Industrial Logic and the Dynamics of Knowledge
Entrepreneurs and Enterprises
Artisanal Trades and the Formalization of Knowledge
Engineers and Engineering
Three Examples of Engineering Science
Science, the Universities, and the State

Chapter 6. Steam Engines
Domination of Empirical Knowledge Before 1850
The Birth of Thermodynamics
Experimental Thermodynamics
The Conquest of Great Efficiency
The End of an Era

Chapter 7. The Chemical Industry
Organic Chemistry and the Dye Industry before 1900
Physical Chemistry and the Second Industrial Revolution
Macromolecular Chemistry and Vertical Integration
Summing Up Chemistry


Chapter 8. Technological Interdependence and Consumer Needs
Iron Metallurgy in France in the Nineteenth Century
Generalizing the Model

Chapter 9. Strategies and Social Networks
Global Communities: Gas, Electricity, Automobiles
Social Groups
Enterprises and Networks
The Pillars of Innovation
Local Productive Systems


Chapter 10. From Early Modern Times to the 1880s
The English Model
The Rise of Mass Civilization in Paris, 1830-1880

Chapter 11. Technological Networks and Communications
French Railways: Rationalization and Cybernetics
Interconnections: Networks of Electricity
Mass Consumption
Mass Production
The Rise of Communications
The Birth of a Communications Society

Chapter 12. From Microprocessors to the Internet
Flexible Production
Information and Audiovisual Technologies
Computer Networks and the Birth of the Internet
Communications of a Large Network: the SNCF
The Social Life of Networks, 1995-2008

Chapter 13. Information Technology and Society
Objects of Daily Life
The Era of the Internet and Cellular Phones
The Nature of Messages
Social Connections
The Unforeseen Outcome


Name Index

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