The American Electrical Engineering Occupation:

Profession, Professionalization, Power and Status






H. Michael Boyd, PhD

Dr. Boyd is a full-time Professor of Organizational and Human Resources at Bentley University and President of Boyd Associates consulting to enterprises from Fortune 100 companies to startups. Michael Boyd is an internationally recognized expert in the field of human resources with over 30 years of corporate and consulting experience and is professionally active as an educator, consultant, writer, and speaker.




Library of Congress Control Number: 2007903893

Copyright © 2007 - all rights reserved

ISBN 978-0-9791703-0-0

H. Michael Boyd, Ph.D.,

Boyd Associates, Walpole, Massachusetts, USA

16 Millbrook Avenue; Walpole, MA 02081  USA


                                                                                                                                                $ 39.95 (USD)




The Sociology Of The American Electrical Engineering Occupation:

A Socio-Historical Analysis of the Profession, Professionalization, Power and Status


This book deals with the sociological aspects of power, knowledge, status and technology as they are found in a socio-historical review of the American electrical engineering profession and occupation as it has evolved from the early 1880s through the 1990s. The review centers on the American electrical engineering profession with particular emphasis on electronics. The primary foci of this discourse are the professionalizing of the American Electrical Engineering occupation, its quest for status and power, its creation and stewardship of knowledge, its control of technology, and its marriage with capitalism and industry. This is a qualitative project addressing how the social issues of power and status have influenced the evolution of the American electrical engineering profession. It will deal with three questions of sociological importance: Is the American electrical engineering group an occupation or a profession; what has been the influence of technology on the group; and how has the elite leadership of the group influenced it ? I propose the concept of a profession nested within an occupational group as a way to explain the otherwise conflicting interpretations by sociologists of analyses of the social history. This work uses the Second World War as a primary point of differentiation and transition.






Abstract                                                                                                                         iii

Acknowledgment                                                                                                         iv

Table of Contents                                                                                                         v


Chapter 1.  Introduction                                                                                               1

   I.            Introduction                                                                                                  1

   II.           Research                                                                                                       7

   III.         Summary of Chapters                                                                                 10


Chapter 2.  Sociological Theory and Autonomy in Engineering                          13

   I.            Sociological Perspective                                                                            13

   II.          Theory and Autonomy                                                                               15

   III.          Summary                                                                                                      33


Chapter 3.  Concept of Profession and the Engineering Field                              39

I.           Broadening the Theory of Occupational Professions                          39

   II.          Professionalism, Technology, and Power  44

   III.         The American Engineering Profession                                                   56

   IV.         The Concept of a Modern Engineering Profession                              76

V.             Summary                                                                                                     83


Chapter 4.  The American Electrical Engineering Profession                               89

                   before W.W.II

   I.           Engineering Before World War II                                                            89

   II.          The European Engineering Experience                                                   90

   III.         Engineering in America before W.W.I.                                                  92

   IV.         A Middle Class Occupation and Profession – Up To WWII            96

   V.          The Evolution of the Technology-Based Economy                            99

                     And the Production of Engineers

   VI.         The New Engineered Workplace                                                           109

   VII.        The American Engineering Profession before W.W.II                      112

   VIII.       Pre-WWII American Electrical Engineering Professional                 115

                     Association and Status

    IX.         Summary                                                                                                  120



Chapter 5.  World War II and the Modern American Electrical                        130

                  Engineering Profession

   I.           Social Change and Transition of the Occupation                               130

   II.          The A.I.E.E. and I.R.E.                                                                             145

   III.         The New Economic Order and Technology                                        149

   IV.         Issues of the Profession During the War                                            153

   V.          Social Realignment of the Classes and Electrical Engineers             156


Chapter 6.  Post W.W.II American Electrical Engineering:                                 165

                  The Social Context

   I.           Post World War II                                                                                     165

   II.          Post WWII American Electrical Engineers and Class Revisited       179


Chapter 7.  The Postwar “Electronics Oriented” Profession                               184

   I.           American Electronics Electrical Engineering                                         184

   II.         The Post-War Professional Organization                                               192

   III.        The AIEE, IRE. and IEEE                                                                           197


Chapter 8.  Post War American Electrical Engineering and                                 207

                  Professional Association:                            

   I.          Electrical Engineering – Development and Change                             207

   II.         Technology and Social Change                                                              222

   III.        Education and Profession                                                                       226

    III.        American Electrical Engineering of the 90s:                                          230

    IV.        Beliefs, Culture, and Profession: A Case Study                                   234

    V.         Conclusions                                                                                               249


Chapter 9.  Summary and Conclusions                                                                   253

   I.           Summary and Conclusions                                                                       253

   II.         Hypothesis For Future Research                                                             255

   III.        Future of the Engineering Professional Association                            261


BIBLIOGRAPHY                                                                                                        265

APPENDIX  A - Survey of Engineers (form)                                                         289

BIOGRAPHICAL  NOTE                                                                                          295








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