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
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
• 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
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
o Became widely used to manufacture a number of artifacts, from jewelry to
o Glorious development to the Age of Plastic
• History of plastics;
o Precursors to Bakelite
• 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
• 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
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