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Hardcover | $45.00 Short | £26.95 | ISBN: 9780262013628 | 640 pp. | 6 x 9 in | January 2010
Not for sale in the Netherlands.

Technology and the Making of the Netherlands

The Age of Contested Modernization, 1890-1970


This study offers both an account of twentieth-century technology in the Netherlands and a view of Dutch history through the lens of technology. It describes the trajectory of modernization through technology in certain characteristically Dutch contexts—including the omnipresence of water, the pervasiveness of urbanization coupled with a high-tech agricultural sector, and the legacy of colonialism—but at the same time makes it clear that Dutch struggles over technology choices, infrastructure development, mass production, and the role of government are comparable to the experience of any Western industrialized country.

The book, which synthesizes findings originally presented in a series of seven volumes published in the Netherlands, uses the idea of contested modernization as an overarching concept through which to understand Dutch technological history. The modernizers of Dutch society—including engineers, management consultants, architects, and others—did not always agree on how to modernize; moreover, the unruliness of specific practices often derailed or redirected implementation. Tensions between top-down and bottom-up modernization, and between scale-enlargement and more flexible arrangements of mutual coordination and cooperation shaped Dutch history. The chapters examine such topics as attempts to create an industrial nation, materially connected through infrastructure; the conflicts that came with the arrival of mass production and the emergence of a consumer society; and land-use planning in a low-lying country.

Copublished with Walberg Pers, the Netherlands

About the Editors

Johan Schot is a Professor of the History of Technology at the Eindhoven University of Technology.

Harry Lintsen is a Professor of the History of Technology at the Eindhoven University of Technology.

Arie Rip is Professor of Philosophy of Science and Technology in the School of Management and Governance of the University of Twente.


"In this thoughtful and synthetic work, contested modernization yields a fresh interpretation of twentieth-century Dutch history. Changes in technology, consumption, war, the nation state, colonialism—even the efforts of activist Dutch housewives--are clearly in view. This is an account alive to the nuances of the distinctive Dutch experience with modernity."
Thomas J. Misa, Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota, coeditor of Urban Machinery

"This is a splendid book, providing a fascinating analysis of the history of modern Netherlands through the lens of technology. Filled with carefully chosen and beautifully illustrated images, Technology and the Making of the Netherlands is a true pleasure to read. Anyone interested in technology and history will find something to learn within these pages."
Arne Kaijser, Professor of History of Technology, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, and President of the Society for History of Technology (2009-2010)

"This is a timely translation of the crowning final volume of a monumentally rich, well-researched, and beautifully illustrated and edited series. The Dutch-language volume showed that no historian of technology or economic historian of the twentieth century can ignore the rich and subtle experience of modern technological progress in the Netherlands, illuminated here in English and from many different points of view. The economic, social, political, and cultural ramifications of rapid technological progress in a small, open, and rich country are explored in a clear yet scholarly fashion. A wonderful book."
Joel Mokyr, Professor of Economics and History, Northwestern University author of The Gifts of Athena and The Enlightened Economy