Knowledge and Professional Identity in Engineering: Code-switching and the Metrics of Progress

TitleKnowledge and Professional Identity in Engineering: Code-switching and the Metrics of Progress
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsDowney, G. Lee, and J. Lucena
Secondary TitleHistory and Technology
Abstract

When nations redefine their priorities and re-plot their directions of travel, engineers get worried about the contents of their knowledge. The cultural and historical specificity of their responses illustrates the extent to which the questions of what counts as engineering knowledge and what counts as an engineer are linked tightly together, and also suggests that both may be tied to local images of the nation. After summarizing recent historical work comparing national patterns in engineering knowledge and engineers’ work, this essay outlines how a focus on professional identity may provide a way of accounting for national and transnational influences on engineers while avoiding the specter of determinism. Offering brief case studies drawn from France, the UK, Germany and the USA, the authors describe engineers as ’responding’ to codes of meaning that live at different scales, including contrasting metrics of progress and images of private industry. The paper is concluded with a brief assessment of some further implications of the analysis of professional identity for work in engineering studies.

URLhttp://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content db=all content=a714008019