The Corporate Eye: Photography and the Rationalization of American Commercial Culture, 1884-1929 (Studies in Industry and Society)

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9780801880995: The Corporate Eye: Photography and the Rationalization of American Commercial Culture, 1884-1929 (Studies in Industry and Society)
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In the late nineteenth century, corporate managers began to rely on photography for everything from motion studies to employee selection to advertising. This practice gave rise to many features of modern industry familiar to us today: consulting, "scientific" approaches to business practice, illustrated advertising, and the use of applied psychology.

In this imaginative study, Elspeth H. Brown examines the intersection of photography as a mass technology with corporate concerns about efficiency in the Progressive period. Discussing, among others, the work of Frederick W. Taylor, Eadweard Muybridge, Frank Gilbreth, and Lewis Hine, Brown explores this intersection through a variety of examples, including racial discrimination in hiring, the problem of photographic realism, and the gendered assumptions at work in the origins of modern marketing. She concludes that the goal uniting the various forms and applications of photographic production in that era was the increased rationalization of the modern economy through a set of interlocking managerial innovations, technologies that sought to redesign not only industrial production but the modern subject as well.

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Winner, Association of American Publishers' Professional and Scholarly Publishing Award in Business, Management and Accounting

The Corporate Eye examines the intersection of photography as a mass technology with corporate concerns about efficiency in the Progressive period. Discussing the work of, among others, Frederick W. Taylor, Eadweard Muybridge, Frank Gilbreth, and Lewis Hine, Elspeth H. Brown explores this intersection through a variety of examples, including racial discrimination in hiring, the problem of photographic realism, and the gendered assumptions at work in the origins of modern marketing. She concludes that the goal uniting the various forms and applications of photographic production in that era was the increased rationalization of the modern economy through a set of interlocking managerial innovations, technologies that sought to redesign not only industrial production but the modern subject itself.

"A highly welcome contribution to the field of business history as well as American visual culture."―Business History Review

"This highly readable, interdisciplinary book provides insights into both the history of American economic development and the history of photography."―Patricia Johnson, Afterimage

"A unique and interdisciplinary analysis of the intersection between visual and commercial culture in the USA."―History of Photography

"The Corporate Eye is American studies and interdisciplinary cultural history at its best."―Journal of American History

"This is a book whose 'big picture' is fully in focus."―Technology and Culture

"Meticulous research and rich contextualization... A welcome and imaginative addition to the history of visual technologies and commercial history."―Industrial Archaeology

Elspeth H. Brown is an associate professor of history at the University of Toronto and the director of the Centre for the Study of the United States, Munck Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto.

About the Author:

Elspeth H. Brown is an associate professor of history at the University of Toronto and the director of the Centre for the Study of the United States, Munck Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto.

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