Cover image for Scientists, business, and the state, 1890-1960
Scientists, business, and the state, 1890-1960
McGrath, Patrick J. (Patrick Joseph), 1961-
Publication Information:
Chapel Hill, NC : University of North Carolina Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
x, 248 pages ; 25 cm.
Science and the crises of the new corporate order -- Scientific politics in the 1930s -- The creation of state science -- Making the case for a managerial democracy -- The battles over scientific militarism in the Cold War state -- The Oppenheimer case, Eisenhower, and the triumph of scientific militarism.
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Q127.U5 M37 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In the late nineteenth century, scientists began allying themselves with America's corporate, political, and military elites. They did so not just to improve their professional standing and win more money for research, says Patrick McGrath, but for political reasons as well. They wanted to use their new institutional connections to effect a transformation of American political culture. They succeeded, but not in ways that all scientists envisioned or agreed upon.

McGrath describes how, between 1890 and 1960, scientific, business, and political leaders together forged a new definition of American democracy in which science and technology were presented to the public as crucial ingredients of the nation's progress, prosperity, and political stability. But as scientists became more prominent, they provoked conflicts among themselves as well as with their institutional patrons over exactly how their expertise should be used. McGrath examines the bitter battles that erupted over the role scientists should play during the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War arms race, and the security and loyalty investigations of the 1950s. He finds that, by the end of the 1950s, scientists were regarded by the political and military elite not as partners but as subordinate technicians who were expected to supply weapons on demand for the Cold War state.

Originally published 2001.

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Author Notes

Patrick J. McGrath has lectured in American history at New York University, Fordham University, and Pace University.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The history of technology is replete with stories of individuals and their inventions, and of the influences that innovations have had on society and state. Independent scholar McGrath has successfully woven a study of the relationship between America's individuals, commerce, and the character of governance through the machine age. He begins with the social conditions that were ripe for scientific solutions. The divisions of the US Civil War and the personality-driven economics of large-scale production led to science being perceived as a benign source of solutions. The literature of the times is used effectively to illustrate the sentiment of the times; progress in both commerce and society was rooted in technological advance. McGrath demonstrates how scientific principles were used to argue for both the development of "scientific management" and vertically integrated industries like telecommunications. War became the catalyst that led to the institutional relationship between "big science" and the state. By the second half of the 20th century, the voice of the scientist was increasingly lost in "the organization." McGrath does a masterful job of identifying key players, their ideological differences, and their actions. An important book. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals. E. J. Delaney formerly, University of Wisconsin--River Falls

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
Chapter 1 Science and the Crises of the New Corporate Orderp. 7
Chapter 2 Scientific Politics in the 1930sp. 33
Chapter 3 The Creation of State Sciencep. 68
Chapter 4 Making the Case for a Managerial Democracyp. 96
Chapter 5 The Battles over Scientific Militarism in the Cold War Statep. 128
Chapter 6 The Oppenheimer Case, Eisenhower, and the Triumph of Scientific Militarismp. 158
Conclusionp. 194
Notesp. 203
Bibliographyp. 227
Indexp. 245