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The Human Motor: Energy, Fatigue, and the Origins of Modernity Paperback – January 8, 1992

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Drawing analogies from the 19th-century discovery of the laws of thermodynamics, European social scientists envisioned the toiling worker's body as a "human motor," a living machine; maximizing work-force efficiency and eradicating the "disease" of fatigue seemed within reach. Psychologists and physiologists subjected the body's rhythms and movements to laboratory study. The psychiatric complaint of neurasthenia, or nervous exhaustion, was epidemic, and German scientists in the early 1900s sought a vaccine to cure fatigue. In a dense, rewarding study, Rabinbach ( The Crisis of Austrian Socialism ) shows how the "science of work," spreading beyond such areas as industrial management, physical education and accident prevention, pervaded the language of technocrats, Marxists and fascists who viewed the worker as a machine. He pinpoints a source of modern spiritual malaise: the transformation from a strictly work-centered society to one in which work has been abandoned as a source of self-fulfillment.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Rabinbach has performed a major feat of historical reconstruction. "The Human Motor is a skillful and theoretically informed synthesis of social and intellectual history."--Jackson Lears, "The New Republic
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (January 8, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520078276
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520078277
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #640,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Provides a detailed historical perspective with documentation, of western Europe's fixation with the study of fatigue, productivity. For work physiologists, this is a must read as it provides the foundational basis for present day laboratory procedures and research directions.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is similar in theme and content to Mirowski's 1989 More Heat than Light (albeit less technically rigorous), containing interesting trivia tidbits, e.g. that German mathematician Carl Neumann, the first to introduce the d-hat derivative symbol for inexact differentials (1875), had views on how economic life related to energetic components of energy exchanges between people. Here's a short bio on Rabinbach:

[...]

He states that the book originated from a 1993 paper he wrote.
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