The Control Revolution.
Technological and Economic Origins of the Information Society.
JAMES R. BENIGER. Harvard University Press,Cambridge, MA, 1986. xiv, 493 pp., illus. $25.
The Control Revolution seeks to explain theorigins of what journalists sometimes call the information society. James R. Beniger, who teaches in the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Southern California, traces that concept to the work almost three decades ago of the economist Fritz Machlup. Machlup summed employment and output in some 30 industries, including the activity of persons in "education, research and development, communications media, information machines (like computers), and information services (finance, insurance, real estate)' (p. 22). He found that about 30% of both the gross national product and the labor force in 1958 were accounted for by "the production and distribution of knowledge.' Others have since extended Machlup's work and have placed it in historical perspective.
From the beginning of the 19th century,the labor force shifted first out of agriculture and into industry, then into the service sector, and most recently into the "information' sector. Beniger argues that the rise of that last sector was tied initially to the emergence of the railroad in the 1830s and then most significantly to a "crisis of control' in the 1870s and 1880s in the wake of "the Industrial Revolution.' In the last couple of decades, he indicates, the computer has further extended the domain of the information sector. These changes constitute for Beniger a "control revolution.' This is his personal terminology for a phenomenon pointed to by many others, including the popular writer Alvin Toffler, who called it the Third Wave, the first two being agricultural and then industrial society. In this new book Beniger emphasizes the long-term historical origins of the highly fashionable and highly vague concept perhaps best known as "postindustrial society.'
Most of The Control Revolution consists ofa synthesis of the work of historians, particularly those in American business and economic history. Beniger has been powerfully influenced by that literature, and above all by the work of Harvard's Pulitzer Prize-- winning business historian Alfred D. Chandler, Jr. Many of the authors Beniger cites, such as Max Weber, Frederic C. Lane, and Fritz Redlich, were also important in shaping Chandler's ideas. Chandler's enormously influential 1977 magnum opus, The Visible Hand: The...
You Are Viewing A Preview Page of the Full ArticleThe article found is from the Academic OneFile database.
You may need to log in through your institution or contact your library to obtain proper credentials.