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SOC3116 (86)

Technological Frame, Inclusion, and Bakelite (ii)

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Stephan Larose

January 31, 2014 Technological Frame, Inclusion: The Invention of Bakelite • Bijker used the case study of Bakelite to stray from the myth of the “Invention of the Lone Genius” o Used closure, stabilization, RSG’s and other previously used terms, but also inclusion and the idea of the technological frame. o Leo Hendrik Baekeland invented Bakelite in 1907;  First invented Velox, the first commercially successful photographic paper. • Would later sell the commercial rights to Kodak for a large sum, not needing to work for the rest of his life. • Came from a wealthy family and thus funding was not a restriction.  Bakelite would cause Baekeland to become highly-respected as a Great Inventor, receiving high honours as being the face of Time Magazine. • What is Bakelite? o It is a trademark for a moulding material patented by Baekeland in 1907. o Formed in condensation reaction that occurs when phenol and formaldehyde are combined; insoluble, infusible, and unaffected by other chemicals. It is mouldable but hardens. It is heat and electricity insulated, fire resistant. o It is the first plastic invented that held its shape after being heated. The first synthetic plastic. o Became widely used to manufacture a number of artifacts, from jewelry to mechanical parts. o Glorious development to the Age of Plastic • History of plastics; o Precursors to Bakelite  “Old Plastics” • Resin, horn, tortoiseshells, ivory (luxury market)  New plastics made from natural materials • Rubber; ugly • Celluloid; flammable, could deform  Search for synthetic plastics • Concerns about scarcity of natural resources • Demand for consumer products—consumers emerging as a new RSG • Chemists began non-systematically experimenting with phenol- formaldehyde experiments, but without commercial success o Baekeland continued this research which, at the time, had fallen into disarray.  Looked into this research in a more structured way; controlling for temperature, light, and other variables. o Why did Baekeland succeed when others did not?  Technological frame; Artifacts + Social Interaction • Where the meaning attributed to an artifact by members of an RSG is negotiated. • Made of o Problems, solutions, requirements, problems-solving
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