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Talking about Machines: An Ethnography of a Modern Job (Collection on Technology and Work) Paperback – 24 Oct 1996

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: ILR Press (24 Oct. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801483905
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801483905
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 1.5 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 638,062 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


"Orr's volume proves a rewarding read, one that underlines the importance of understanding the complex interactions of machines and humans, technology and culture in the twentieth-century workplace."―Amy Sue Bix, Technology and Culture

"This book should be of value to anyone interested in studies of work practice, and to those who study technical work in particular."―Bonalyn J. Nelsen, Industrial and Labor Relations Review

"How ironic, at an historic moment when technology has assumed a taken-for-granted status in the workplace, that scholarship on organizations, work, and technology has only recently begun to find its feet. With this splendid ethnography of work practices by technicians who service photocopy machines, Julian Orr has made a major incursion into this territory, producing a volume that bridges disciplinary boundaries by joining the literature of organizations, occupations, and work with that of science and technology studies."―Diane Vaughn, Administrative Science Quarterly

From the Back Cover

This is a story of how work gets done. It is also a study of how field service technicians talk about their work and how that talk is instrumental in their success. In his innovative ethnography, Julian E. Orr studies the people who repair photocopiers and shares vignettes from their daily lives. He characterizes their work as a continuous highly skilled improvisation within a triangular relationship of technician, customer, and machine.

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Most helpful customer reviews on 4.1 out of 5 stars 9 reviews
Richard G. Kahn
4.0 out of 5 starsA must read for all service managers and service providers.
21 March 1999 - Published on
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3 people found this helpful.
Eric Nystrom
5.0 out of 5 starsExcellent book
12 November 2017 - Published on
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3.0 out of 5 starsDescribes the life and work of copier repairmen
24 November 2013 - Published on
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One person found this helpful.
Lene Pettersen
5.0 out of 5 starsA must-read book
28 April 2014 - Published on
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One person found this helpful.
Brad McCormick
4.0 out of 5 starsA fine description of the work life of tech repairpersons
24 August 1997 - Published on
4 people found this helpful.