2019-03-15T20:18:31+01:00

In an article from 1976 I came accross in the book the Social Shaping of Technology1, Ruth Schwartz Cowan looks at the introduction of technological appliances in the home and their effects on home work. Her analysis shows that the “industrialization of the home” was very different process from what we might suspect: that it would descrease the amount of work needed to be done by housewives. Rather the technologies seems to have shifted the work and contributed to changes in aspects of the work (such as the emotional aspects).

The standard sociological model for the impact of modern technology on family life clearly needs some revision: at least for middle-class nonrural American families in the 20th century, the social changes were not the ones that the standard model predicts. In these families the functions of at least one member, the housewife, have increased rather than decreased; and the dissolution of family life has not in fact occurred.


  1. Cowan, R. S. (1976). The ‘Industrial Revolution’ in the Home: Household Technology and Social Change in the 20th Century. Technology and Culture, 17(1), 1–23. https://doi.org/10.2307/3103251 ↩︎

Wouter Van Rossem
Wouter Van Rossem

My research interests include distributed robotics, mobile computing and programmable matter.