process of changing from working by hand or with animals to work with machinery

Mechanization or mechanisation (British English) is the process of changing from working largely or exclusively by hand or with animals to doing that work with machinery. This is close related to the concept of transference of skill.

Developments towards mechanization originated from the periodical press and newspapers.
- Audley Genus, 2016
CONTENT : A - F , G - L , M - R , S - Z , See also , External links


Quotes are arranged alphabetically by author

A - F

  • Early British economists held that the application of the principle of division of labor was the basis of manufacture.... Charles Babbage, believed ... in [an] "Economy of Machinery and Manufacture." It appears, however, that another principle is the basic one in the rise of industry. It is the transference of skill. The transference of skill from the inventor or designer to the power-driven mechanism brought about the industrial revolution from handicraft to manufacture. It will be necessary to refer to this principle frequently throughout this report, in showing the meaning and position of management in industry.
No better single illustration of the application of this principle can be found than in the invention of the lathe slide rest by Henry Maudslay in 1794. This has been ranked as second only to the steam engine in its influence on machinery building, and thus on industrial development. The simple, easily controlled mechanical movements of the slide rest were substituted for the skilful human control of hand tools. So complete has been this transference of skill that today hand tooling is a vanished art in American machine shops.
  • Man is by nature a pragmatic materialist, a mechanic, a lover of gadgets and gadgetry; and these are the qualities that characterize the "establishment" which regulates modern society: pragmatism, materialism, mechanization, and gadgetry. Woman, on the other hand, is a practical idealist, a humanitarian with a strong sense of noblesse oblige, an altruist rather than a capitalist.
  • The twentieth century is going much further towards the transference of skill from the worker to the machine.
  • The Methods of Industrial Management. — A committee of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers made an extensive canvass in the fall of 1912 to determine what were the new elements in modern management as well as what the committee designated as the regulative principles of industrial management. The committee confirmed Adam Smith's statement made in 1776 in his "Wealth of Nations," in which he held that the application of the principle of division of labor was the basis of manufacture. The committee also agreed with Charles Babbage, who in his work entitled "Economy of Machinery and Manufacture" written in 1832, added another principle, namely the transference of skill.
  • I believe that the horrifying deterioration in the ethical conduct of people today stems from the mechanization and dehumanization of our lives. A disastrous by-product of the development of the scientific and technical mentality. We are guilty. Man grows cold faster than the planet he inhabits.
    • Albert Einstein (1946) in a 1946 letter to Dr. Otto Fullisburger, cited in: Journal of Public Policy & Marketing. (2004). p. 75
  • Everyone knows the difference between a fisherman, a sailor, a swimmer, a cyclist, and people who fish, sail, swim and cycle for sport. The last are technicians; as Jünger says, they “tend to carry to perfection the mechanical side of their activity.” This mechanization of actions is accompanied by the mechanization of sporting goods—stop watches, starting machines, and so on. In this exact measurement of time, in the precision training of muscular actions, and in the principle of the “record,” we find repeated in sport one of the essential elements of industrial life.
    • Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society (1964), p. 383: About mechanisation in sports.

G - L

  • In olden times when there was a war, it was a human-to-human confrontation. The victor in battle would directly see the blood and suffering of the defeated enemy. Nowadays, it is much more terrifying because a person in an office can push a button and kill millions of people and never see the human tragedy that he or she has created. The mechanization of war, the mechanization of human conflict, poses an increasing threat to peace.
  • Developments towards mechanization originated from the periodical press and newspapers.
    • Audley Genus (2016), Sustainable Consumption: Design, Innovation and Practice, p.58
It has long been realized by those engaged in the work of installing scientific management, that transference of skill is one of the most important features.
- Frank B. Gilbreth, 1912
  • It... has long been realized by those engaged in the work of installing scientific management, that transference of skill is one of the most important features... The importance of transference of skill was realized many years ago. Studies in division of work and in elapsed time of doing work were made by Adam Smith, Charles Babbage, M. Coulomb and others, but accurate measurement in management became possible when Mr. Taylor devised his method of observing and recording elementary unit net times for performance with measured allowance for fatigue.
It is now possible to capture, record and transfer not only skill and experience of the best worker, but also the most desirable elements in the methods of all workers. To do this, scientific management carefully proceeds to isolate, analyze, measure, synthesize and standardize least wasteful elementary units of methods. This it does by motion study, time study and micro-motion study which are valuable aids to sort and retain all useful elements of best methods and to evolve from these a method worthy to be established as a standard and to be transferred and taught. Through this process is made possible the community conservation of measured details of experience which has revolutionized every industry that has availed itself of it.
  • Frank B. Gilbreth. Discussion on "The present state of art of industrial management." Transactions of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering. Vol. 34 (1912). p. 1124-5
  • The strongest bulwark of authority is uniformity; the least divergence from it is the greatest crime. The wholesale mechanisation of modern life has increased uniformity a thousandfold. It is everywhere present, in habits, tastes, dress, thoughts and ideas. Its most concentrated dullness is "public opinion." Few have the courage to stand out against it. He who refuses to submit is at once labelled "queer," "different," and decried as a disturbing element in the comfortable stagnancy of modern life.
  • Machine production, not only further division of labour in the production process, but it also transfers the skill of the worker to the operating machine. Mechanization intensifies this transference of skill from man to machine, making factory work simple.
    • Edward Joseph Hanna (1933), Report and Recommendations of the California State Unemployment Commission, p. 215
  • The overwhelming pressure of mechanization evident in the newspaper and the magazine, has led to the creation of vast monopolies of communication. Their entrenched positions involve a continuous, systematic, ruthless destruction of elements of permanence essential to cultural activity.
  • One of the curious things about mathematics that clearly emerges... is that mathematics which is concerned with reasoning nevertheless creates processes which can be applied almost mechanically, that is, without reasoning. The thinking is, so to speak, mechanized and this mechanization enables us to solve complicated problems in no time. We think up processes so that we don't have to think.
    • Morris Kline, Mathematics for the Nonmathematician (1967) p. 118.
How can you like the complete mechanization of work?
- Roy Lichtenstein, 1963
  • 'How can you [accept] exploitation?' 'How can you like the complete mechanization of work?' 'How can you like bad art?' I have to answer that I accept it as being there, in the world.
    • Roy Lichtenstein What is Pop Art? Interviews with eight painters (1963) pp. 25-27

M - R

  • Typography as the first mechanization of a handicraft is itself the perfect instance not of a new knowledge, but of applied knowledge.
  • If the individual were no longer compelled to prove himself on the market, as a free economic subject, the disappearance of this kind of freedom would be one of the greatest achievements of civilization. The technological processes of mechanization and standardization might release individual energy into a yet uncharted realm of freedom beyond necessity. The very structure of human existence would be altered; the individual would be liberated from the work world's imposing upon him alien needs and alien possibilities. The individual would be free to exert autonomy over a life that would be his own.
  • Advertising tends to make mechanized barbarians of us all.
    • Everett Dean Martin, The Conflict of the Individual and the Mass in the Modern World (1932), pp. 29-30
  • There is considerable danger that psychoanalysis, as well as other forms of psychotherapy and adjustment psychology, will become new representations of the fragmentation of man, that they will exemplify the loss of the individual's vitality and significance, rather than the reverse, that the new techniques will assist in standardizing and giving cultural sanction to man's alienation from himself rather than solving it, that they will become expressions of the new mechanization of man.
    • Rollo May, Existence (1958), p. 35; also published in The Discovery of Being : Writings in Existential Psychology (1983), Part II : The Cultural Background, Ch. 5 : Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Freud, p. 86.
  • The Mechanisation of Industry.
Although there were some significant and interesting features of the national conference on the Mechanisation of Industry which was held in London on January 16, it cannot be said that the conference provided more than an opportunity for the expression of views on a problem which is very much to the front just now. The object of the conference was to discuss the effect of the use of more and more machinery in industry, from the point of view of ownership and management on the one hand, and from the point of view of labour on the other hand. In a way, the complaint was that there is not sufficient mechanisation of industry to enable our costs of production to be brought down to a competitive level in the world's markets, whilst against this there was the purely negative complaint from the labour side that there is too much mechanisation.
  • Mechanical World and Engineering Record. (1931), Vol. 89, p. 94 : Report about one of the first conferences on the Mechanisation of Industry.
  • Philosophy must re-emphasize man versus the collective body (with its envisaged collectivized mind), freedom versus the mechanization of inner and social life, common sense versus faith in science.
    • Thomas Molnar, The Decline of the Intellectual (1961) Ch. 11 "Intellectual and Philosopher"
  • Mechanization and regimentation are not new phenomena in history: what is new is the fact that these functions have been projected and embodied in organized form which dominate every aspect of our existence.
    • Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization (1934) Ch. II "Agents of Mechanization," p. 4
  • The incentive to mechanization lay in the greater profits that could be extracted through the multiplied and efficiency of the machine.
    • Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization (1934) Ch. II "Agents of Mechanization," p. 21
  • The mechanization of human labor was, in effect, the first step toward the humanization of the machine humanization in the sense of giving the automaton some of the mechanical equivalents of life-likeness.
    • Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization (1934) Ch. II "Agents of Mechanization," p. 145-6
The characteristic feature of our modern mechanical improvements, is the introduction of self-acting tool machinery. What every mechanical workman has now to do, and what every boy can do, is not to work himself, but to superintend the beautiful labor of the machine.
- James Nasmyth, 1851
  • The characteristic feature of our modern mechanical improvements, is the introduction of self-acting tool machinery. What every mechanical workman has now to do, and what every boy can do, is not to work himself, but to superintend the beautiful labor of the machine. The whole class of workmen that depend exclusively on their skill is now done away with.
  • Mechanisation leads to the decay of taste, the decay of taste leads to demand for machine-made articles and hence to more mechanisation, and so a vicious circle is established.
    • George Orwell (1927), The Road to Wigan Pier, p. 171 (in 1967 edition)

S - Z

  • Transference of skill, when considered with reference to the industrial revolution and the introduction of machinery, might easily be interpreted to mean the transference of skill from the workman to the machine. What actually happened was that the machine brought to the aid of the workmen some of the vast forces of nature; and in addition it superseded the skill of the hand worker. That this was a distinct loss to the hand worker who was unable to adjust himself to the new conditions is incontestable in the face of economic history; and the sad record of the change is a solenm warning to present day managers to take every step possible to make the adjustment to new methods of management as easy and gradual as possible. The machine developed a new kind of skill on the part of the operator; but now it is a minute skill easily acquired and subject to sudden loss with the change in the design of the machine.
    • C. Bertrand Thompson (1912) in: C. Bertrand Thompson, Ed. Scientific Management: A Collection of the More Significant Articles Describing the Taylor System of Management, p. 183; Partly cited in: Donald Stabile (1984), Prophets of Order, p. 74
  • We conceive the prominent element in present-day industrial management to be: the mental attitude that consciously applies the transference of skill to all the activities of industry. Here emphasis is placed upon the word all, for the restricted application of this principle to machines and tools has been highly developed for a long period. But its conscious application in a broad way to the production departments, and particularly to the workmen, we believe has been made during the last quarter of a century.
    • Attributed to Henry R. Towne in: William Kent (1914) Investigating an Industry, p. 3-4
  • Coal being then the chief source of power, much industrial reconstruction depended on there being a plentiful and cheap supply. But the newly nationalized industry was not doing well. Productivity failed to increase in step with increases in mechanization. Men were leaving the mines in large numbers for more attractive opportunities in the factories. Among those who remained, absenteeism averaged 20 percent. Labor disputes were frequent despite improved conditions of employment. Some time earlier the National Coal Board had asked the Institute to make a comparative study of a high producing, high morale mine and a low producing, low morale, but otherwise equivalent mine.
    • Eric Trist The evolution of socio-technical systems, (1981) p. 7
  • Paul wondered at what thorough believers in mechanization most Americans were, even when their lives had been badly damaged by mechanization.
  • Mediocrity serves it best because mechanization best serves the mediocre.
    • Frank Lloyd Wright (1949-59), in: Frank Lloyd Wright, ‎Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer (1995), 1949-1959, p. 61
  • It always demands a far greater degree of courage for an individual to oppose an organized movement than to let himself be carried along with the stream — individual courage, that is, a variety of courage that is dying out in these times of progressive organization and mechanization.

See also

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