Sons of the Machine
Case Studies of Social Change in the Workplace
Sons of the Machine offers a humane and cogent look at industrial culture in Latin America.
Sons of the Machine offers a humane and cogent look at industrial culture in Latin America. Through first-hand studies of the processes of social change at three Colombian factories it counters both literary and academic notions of "industrial man." It is a book that grew from Charles Savage's frustration and deep curiosity about the alienation among men and of men from their work in the oilfields of South America in the 1950s. Turning away from the business schools' and management scientists' answers, Savage undertook case studies of different sites in Colombia at different stages of industrial development. Visiting and living in these locations - Santuario, La Blanca, and Medellin-from 1960 to 1972, he laid the foundations for this moving and insightful portrait of the development of industrial man. Sons of the Machine reveals the lives of the workers and their bosses in La Nueva, one of the small potteries in Santuario, in the single factory (also a pottery) in La Blanca, and in the menswear factory of El Dandy in the large metropolitan center of Medellin. It shows that among the issues that inevitably arise in the process of industrialization are conflict between management's preferred organization of production and the worker's social organization both in an out of the workplace, the conflict of efficiency and standardization with craft values, and the tension caused by the introduction of new technology. The result is a rich portrayal of the process of structural change in the societies and economies of village, town, and city. The studies show that these changes sometimes occur in rapid bursts during a short period of time rather than slowly and continuously over long periods as the conventional wisdom holds.
George F. F. Lombard has revived Savage's work, drawn his conclusions together in the context of recent scholarship, and provided a substantial introduction to this book. Sons of the Machine is included in the Organization Studies Series, edited by John van Maanen.