The Engineer: What Role in the Development of Civilization?

by Gene Dallaire, Associate Editor; Civil Engineering Magazine, New York, NY 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1977, Vol. 47, Issue 10, Pg. 64-74

Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: Two brilliant social philosophers underscored the crucial role played by the engineer in history. Karl Marx saw society as consisting of a basic structure and a superstructure. The basic structure is man's tools, techniques, his technology. The superstructure is everything else—man's social organization, political structure, law, religion, philosophy, etc. The basic structure said Marx, was of crucial importance; the superstructure was determined by the basic structure. Who, then, is the shaper of society? No one. But the man who creates technology, the engineer, is the unwitting creator of society, is the fundamental agent of change. Thorstein Veblen stressed the distinction between industry and business. Industry expressed man's constructive nature. But business was made up of predatory characters who took possession of the wealth created by engineers. The engineers, said Veblen, were the indispensible General Staff of the industrial system.

Subject Headings: Social factors | History | Engineers | Organizations |

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