From 1900 to 1960, the introduction and development of four so-called urbanizing technologies-the telephone, automobile, radio, and electric light and power-transformed the rural United States. But did these new technologies revolutionize rural life in the ways modernizers predicted? And how exactly-and with what levels of resistance and acceptance-did this change take place? In Consumers in the Country Ronald R. Kline, avoiding the trap of technological determinism, explores the changing relationships among the Country Life professionals, government agencies, sales people, and others who promoted these technologies and the farm families who largely succeeded in adapting them to rural culture.
Ronald R. Kline is a professor of history of technology at Cornell University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Science and Technology Studies and the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.