Engineering lives : Technology, time and space in a male-centred world

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköpings universitet

Abstract: This thesis deals with engineers. It is an ethnographic study of the life organisation for seventeen engineers with Master's degrees working at two different workplaces, Automobile Inc. and Microchips Inc. The study is based on participant observation and life-history interviews. It is a study of work, careers and life-paths among thirteen men and four women. Underlying question of this study are what makes sense  to these people  and how meaning is constructed in their lives as engineers.The thesis consists of two parts. In the first part, situated activities and social practices of the two engineering workplaces are focused on. It examines how meaning is produced, reproduced, and socially organised in two engineering microcultures - in short, how technical work is socially constructed under various conditions.In the second part, the lives of the seventeen engineers are presented. Their life-paths are examined through a series of questions such as; Are there any common formative life expedences in the lives of these seventeen engineers? What is their relation to technology and education in the early years of life? How do one relate to family background and "significant others"? How do these engineers present and understand themselves through the reconstruction of their lives in relation to career and gender? What meaning is given to the occupational career in the organisation of life? How are occupational careers in engineering performed?The basic theoretical position in this study is an interactionist one. The most important concepts of the study's first part are microculture, time, space and different forms of everyday interaction. In the study's second part the concepts of perspectives, horizon, socialisation, and career are used to point out individual experiences of culture.

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