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Title: Engineers in Belgium 1830-1865. Archaeology of a Profession (Ingenieurs in België 1830-1865. Archeologie van een beroepsgroep)
Other Titles: Engineers in Belgium 1830-1865. Archaeology of a Profession
Authors: Linssen, Willemijne; M0219303
Issue Date: 24-Sep-2013
Abstract: The central focus of this research is the developingprofession of the engineer in the period 1830-1865. The composition and thenature of this profession in Belgium is its main subject, and this is studiedwithin an international context, as the developments in Britain, France andPrussia form touchstones and important reference points.In 1831, with the Independency of Belgium, the TemporaryGovernment decided to continue the French tradition of a State-funded civil andmilitary engineering corps. Besides these officers, engineers employed in theprivate sector, working as consultants or employees, were also active in thesecountries. Our timeframe of three decades covers the transition period in whichBelgian engineers, who were initially identified as state officials,increasingly conquered the private industrial sector; 1830-1865 formed thebackdrop of the privately employed engineer’s struggle for recognition, whichstood in stark contrast to the clear future perspectives of the state engineers.The professional developments involved social processes that touched on labourorganization, education and a labour market where new professionals had toestablish themselves within an existing – but always fluctuating – balance withother experts. To initiate the investigation of the engineering professionin Belgium, we have opted for a broad approach, paying attention to thedifferent specializations, i.e. military engineering, engineers involved inmineralogy including metallurgy, mechanical engineering, engineers in thetextile industry, chemical engineers and engineers in the constructionindustry. Among engineers different professional groups and even individualshad developed a particular professional behaviour with major differencesamongst each other. As a result, engineers do not fit in with the narrowdefinition of a modern profession. When studying the extremely diverse group ofengineers in mid-nineteenth century Belgium, one is dealing with amulti-layered historical reality, the complexity of which professionalizationtheories are not able to cover adequately. Therefore, a bottom-up approachbased on contemporary statistical tools – an inventory including all individualengineers according to specific parameters – was developed in order to map thedynamics of the profession of engineers on a solid factual basis. Thanks to theparameters an interaction could be realised with the more institutional actors,and tentative conclusions regarding the employment context of engineers becamepossible for the first time. We have thus preferred to construct an open-endedand multi-facetted narrative, in fact an ‘archaeology’ of the profession.The research is divided in three parts. First attention isgiven to the employment context of engineers, where the number and compositionof a specific sector of engineers, is analysed. We look furthermore at theeducational background or training of the engineers and touch upon theirworking domain. Professional institutions, for example the state corps, willalso be analysed as they played a major organization in structuring the work ofstate engineers. As with the parts on engineering education (PART II) andengineering associations (PART III), we commence with a brief chapter oninternational parallels. By looking at the organization of the profession ofengineers in Britain, France and Prussia between 1830 and 1865, we seek to gainbetter insight into the elaborate analysis of the Belgian situation. 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ISBN: 978-94-6018-707-0
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: TH
Appears in Collections:Architecture and Society (+)

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