America Calling: A Social History of the Telephone to 1940


Product Details

University of California Press
Publish Date
8.9 X 1.2 X 6.0 inches | 1.3 pounds
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About the Author

Claude S. Fischer is Professor of the Graduate School in Sociology, and the author of To Dwell among Friends: Personal Networks in Town and City (1982) and The Urban Experience (1984).


"A warning to those who see technology as having clear and far-reaching consequences in American life: Don't use the telephone as an obvious example. From a user-centered view of technological dispersion, the author argues convincingly that the telephone reinforced social and cultural patterns rather than changed them. . . . Well researched, with an excellent bibliography and fascinating endnotes, Fischer's study is likely to be a required purchase for comprehensive collections in sociology, business, and the history of technology. It is accessible, however, to a wider audience because of its readability."-- "Library Journal"
"Delightful. . . . A thought-provoking, often entertaining book that makes it impossible to take the telephone for granted."-- "Milwaukee Journal"
"Although it is impossible to reconstruct with complete accuracy how technologies were used and perceived decades ago, America Calling gives us a convincing picture of how a particular technology became part of everyday life." -- "Technology and Culture"
". . . this innovative study advances our understanding of the social role of technology and is a significant contribution to the debate over the modernization process." -- "Journal of American History"
"Professor Fischer's inquisitiveness is refreshing. Many of the methods in this path-breaking book (carefully documented in the text and in seven statistical appendices) are applicable to other social histories of technology; much more could be said about the facility with which he handles his subject's complexities, or about the useful contrasts he draws between the telephone and other space-transcending technologies." -- "Journal of Economic History"
". . . a significant contribution to the historical and sociological understanding of technology and modernity." -- "Journal of Interdisciplinary History"
"[An] insightful and thorough study. . ."-- "Business History Review"
"The book is a treat. Fischer should be the industrywide standard; fortunately, it's a very high standard that he has set." -- "Contemporary Sociology"
"[American Calling] is to be highly recommended for its pioneering approach to the social history of a technology and for its many revisionist conclusions about over-worked concepts like modernity and the decline of community." -- "Journal of Social History"
"Fischer's discussion of historiographic methods, insights into communication technology, and the use of positivistic and post-positivistic research can be an excellent model for technology education researchers. . . . America Calling: A Social History of the Telephone to 1940 is an excellent work of historical research that can offer important STS insights for technology education."-- "Journal of Industrial Teacher Education"