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Consumers, Tinkerers, Rebels

The People Who Shaped Europe
Consumers, Tinkerers, Rebels poster

Who has decided how Europeans have dressed and dwelled? Traveled and dined? Worked and played? Consumers, Tinkerers, Rebels challenges every idea you might have about who can be credited with the shaping of Europe.

Certainly inventors, engineers, and politicians played their parts. But in the making of Europe, consumers, tinkerers, and rebels were an unrecognized force—until now. This book spotlights the people who “made” Europe—by appropriating technology, protesting for and against it. Using examples from Britain and the Continent, the authors illustrate the conflicts that accompanied the modern technologies, from the sewing machine to the bicycle, the Barbie doll to the personal computers. What emerges is a fascinating portrait of how Europeans have lived, from the 1850s to the current century, which the book depicts by means of no less than 75 unique illustrations from all parts of Europe.


Ruth Oldenziel
Ruth Oldenziel Professor
Ruth Oldenziel is Chief editor elect of Technology and Culture; Full Professor in American and European History at the Eindhoven University of Technology. Her publications include (edited) books and articles in American, European, gender, and technology studies: A U-turn to the Past co-edited with M. Emanuel and F. Schipper (Berghahn, 2018 in production); Cycling Cities book series (SHT, 2016-present); Cycling and Recycling: co-edited with Helmuth Trischler (Berghahn 2015); Hacking Europe co-edited with Gerard Alberts (Springer 2013); Cold War Kitchen (MIT, 2009 co-edited with Karin Zachmann); and Making Technology Masculine: (AUP 1999).
Mikael Hård
Mikael Hård Professor
Mikael Hård is Full Professor of History of Technology at Darmstadt University of Technology (TU Darmstadt), Germany. He is presently directing the research project “A Global History of Technology, 1850-2000,” financed by the European Research Council. His books include Hubris and Hybrids: A Cultural History of Technology and Science (Routledge 2005; co-written with Andrew Jamison) and Urban Machinery: Inside Modern European Cities (MIT Press 2008; co-edited with Thomas J. Misa).


  • "...an engaging, beautifully illustrated history of Europe's technological inventions, crafts, design, and gadgetry over the last two centuries, but especially of the peoples of Europe - as train riders, sewing machine operators, bicyclists, radio hobbyists, home-makers, hobbyists, and computer mavens. Wide in scope, profound in its questions about the multiplicity of European ways of living, it is also timely background for considering the impact on European technology and craft of global cyber-innovation and the new environment of global manufacturing."

    Victoria de Grazia, Columbia University, author of Irresistible Empire
  • "In this entertaining fusion of social and technological history, Ruth Oldenziel and Mikael Hård argue that much of Europe's contemporary culture was created from below after 1850, as active consumers tinkered with and appropriated both machines and processes to change the ways that they worked, traveled, communicated, dressed, and ate. Not politicians or generals but consumers have increasingly shaped the experiences that define what it means to be European."

    David E. Nye, author of Technology Matters and America's Assembly Line
  • "From cycling to the internet, and from Magdeburg to Milan, this rich comparative study reveals how attention to users and the social construction of technology can illuminate the history of modern Europe"

    Frank Trentmann, author of Consuming Cultures, Global Perspectives (with John Brewer)

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