perjantai 18. marraskuuta 2011

From Luxury to Every Man's Commodity

Eilen pääsin pienelle aikamatkalle. Sähköpostiohjelma uusittiin, ja tässä yhteydessä jostakin syövereistä oli postilaatikkooni ilmestynyt koko joukko viestejä 1990-luvulta. Nämä olivat viestejä, jotka olivat kadonneet edellisessä ohjelmistojen vaihdossa reilu kymmenen vuotta sitten.

Oikeastaan vain yhtä tallennettua viestiä koskaan olen osannut kaivata. Amerikan Agricolaan, H-Netiin kirjoitin joskus arvostelun kotitalouksien sähköistymistä käsittelevästä kirjasta. Internet, kansainvälinen tietoverkko, oli silloin niin nuori... Kirjoitettu arvio piti lähettää levykkeellä etanapostissa toiselle mantereelle. Sieltä se sitten palautui tilaamani H-USA -sähköpostilistan viestinä takaisin sähköpostilaatikkooni.

Published by (December 1997)

Ronald C. Tobey.  _Technology as Freedom: The New Deal and the Electrical Modernization of the American Home_.  Berkeley:  University of California Press, 1996.  xviii + 334 pp. Tables, appendixes, notes, bibliography, plates, photographs, illustrations, and index.  $35.00 (cloth), ISBN 0-520-20421-2.

Reviewed for H-USA by Reijo Valta.

>From Luxury to Every Man's Commodity

A History Lecturer from the University of California in Riverside, Ronald C. Tobey takes a surprisingly profound look at the increase in the use of electricity in the American home (house-hold) in his book _Technology as Freedom_.  With the help of the City of Riverside and archives of the electricity company, Tobey can study the general household attitudes to electricity, the increase in the use of electricity and the acquiring of electrical equipment house by house from 1920's to the 1950's.  The results are impressive.

In 1922, some 40 per cent of the American households had electricity. Half of these had lighting as the only use of electricity.  Roughly speaking, in the 1920's people in Riverside (Americans in general) bought the electric iron, in the 1930's they bought the radio, in the 1940's it was the refrigerator.  Households with electricity increased simultaneously, and by 1952 only 4 per cent of households had no electricity.

Tobey goes through all the possible stages of household build-up and studies this in relation to the acquiring of electrical equipment. Between 1928 and 1932 the use of electricity in Riverside reached a previously unknown level as the white middle class modernized the tools their mothers had been using.  Throughout the 1920's, however, electrical goods were luxury items. Primarily, electricity was a product demanded by those engaged in industrial activity.

Roosevelt's New Deal becomes the single most important factor in the increase of the use of electricity.  The core of the new economic policy lay in the increase in consumption and the consequent improvement of the national economy.  New Deal also made possible the granting of loans to improve the living standard, and the citizens frequently made use of this possibility created by the president.  Homes became filled with different kinds of household equipment.  The progressive politicians of the 1930's already saw electrical equipment as a means to increase an individual's freedom, no longer as merely a sign of social status.  With the changes in the racial policy that took place after the World War II, also the non-white citizens increasingly had the opportunity to enjoy the advantages brought by electricity.  Increasingly, households became important customers for the producers of electricity.

Tobey's theory could also be applied to the increase in the use of household electricity in other countries.  In the 1930's in my native municipality in Finland, the local government decided not to join in the founding of a county-wide electrical company.  It was thought that in such a farming community electricity would be of little use to an ordinary citizen.  In those days electricity was regarded as power used solely by industry.  With the rebuilding of the nation in the 1940's and 1950's, electricity became an inseparable part of the finish homes.  The coffee pot and the waffle pan were the most notable signs of the increase in the use of electricity, at least psychologically. Tobey's work includes a comprehensive, 50-page bibliography which turns out to be a great aid in further questions in electricity.

Ei kommentteja:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin

Viimeisimmät kirjoitukset