Ambiguous reform: Technical workforce planning and ideologies of class and race in 1960s Chicago

TitleAmbiguous reform: Technical workforce planning and ideologies of class and race in 1960s Chicago
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsSlaton, A. E.
Secondary TitleEngineering Studies
ISBN Number1937-8629
Keywords1960s, Chicago, City Colleges of Chicago, Corplan associates, engineering history, history, race relations, vocational and technical education
Abstract

Throughout the 1960s, educators and planners envisioned new occupational opportunities for Chicagoans in the city’s emerging high-tech industries. In many of their forecasts, the least complex, rewarding, and remunerative jobs associated with Chicago’s projected industrial renewal were destined primarily for women and non-white populations, especially black and Hispanic Chicagoans living in the racially fraught inner-city. New engineering jobs, by contrast, seemed best suited for white, and typically male citizens. Thus, the modernizing city would perpetuate old social divisions. This essay considers how engineering was naturalized, by engineers and their corporate and civic patrons, as an occupation distinct from those of technicians and shop-floor workers in Chicago of the 1960s. The city in those years faced commercial decline and the social unrest accompanying a growing civil rights movement; that hierarchical organization of technical labor answered both employers’ desire for modern managerial techniques and the policy makers’ preference that Chicago’s workforce remain, enduringly, a racially stratified one.

URLhttp://www.informaworld.com/10.1080/19378621003598957