LSE create 'Technocracy" course

Teacher responsible

Professor Alexander Nützenadel


Availability

This course is available on the MA in Asian and International History (LSE and NUS), MA in Modern History, MSc in Empires, Colonialism and Globalisation, MSc in History of International Relations, MSc in International Affairs (LSE and Peking University), MSc in International and Asian History, MSc in International and World History (LSE & Columbia) and MSc in Theory and History of International Relations. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


Course content

This course explores the relation of technocracy, social engineering and politics in the period of the two world wars. Industrial warfare, social conflicts and economic instability led to scientists and technical experts gaining a strong political influence. The emergence of technocracy, however, meant more than finding ‘technical’ solutions to social and economic problems. It was linked to the fundamental crisis of parliamentary democracy and the appearance of authoritarian movements. Both fascist and socialist regimes adopted technocratic concepts in order to improve economic efficiency and to control social conflicts. However, during the Great Depression, technocratic movements also gained ground in democratic societies, in particular in the United States during the ‘New Deal’. This course combines methods of comparative and transnational history. While technocracy was linked to the nation state and often went hand in hand with concepts of economic autarchy, there were strong transnational trends and cross-border transfers as well. Moreover, we will view this topic through the perspectives of various historical sub-disciplines (including political history, economic and social history, history of science and technology). The seminar will also discuss the legacies of technocracy and its revival in recent political debates and practices.


Teaching

20 hours of seminars in the MT. There will be a reading week in week 6 of the Michaelmas Term. The School aims to run in-person seminars, subject to circumstances, with some online provision as and where necessary.


Formative coursework

One essay (2000-2500 words) in the Michaelmas Term.


Indicative reading


  • William E. Akin, Technocracy and the American Dream: The Technocrat Movement, 1900–1941, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977

  • Patricia Clavin, Securing the world economy: the reinvention of the League of Nations 1920–1946, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2013.

  • Sabine Clarke, “A Technocratic Imperial State? The Colonial Office and Scientific Research, 1940-1960”, in Twentieth Century British History, vol. 18, no. 4, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007, pp. 453-80.

  • Antonio Costa Pinto, “Fascism, Corporatism and the Crafting of Authoritarian Institutions in Inter-War European Dictatorships”, in Rethinking Fascism and Dictatorship in Europe, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014, pp. 87-119.

  • John Guse, Nazi Technical Thought Revisited, in History and Technology, vol. 26, 2010, pp. 3-38

  • Jeffrey Herf, “The Engineer as Ideologue: Reactionary Modernists in Weimar and Nazi Germany”, in Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 19, no. 4, 1984, pp. 631-648

  • Janis Mimura, Planning for Empire: Reform Bureaucrats and the Japanese Wartime State, Ithaka, NY: Cornell University Press, 2016

  • Kiran Patel, The New Deal: A Global History, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016

  • Don K. Rowney, Transition to technocracy. The structural origins of the Soviet administrative state, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1989

Source: https://www.lse.ac.uk/resources/calendar2021-2022/courseGuides/HY/2021_HY4A6.htm