The things signs do: Cultural history through the work of the Isotype Institute
Henning, M. (2008) The things signs do: Cultural history through the work of the Isotype Institute. In: Orientations: The International Society for cultural history conference, Ghent, 27 - 31 August 2008.
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This paper addresses how cultural history conceives of cultural forms and practices: as mediated expressions of socio-economic reality or as participants in the production of that reality. I explore this through a case study of the Isotype Institute, and its relation to scientific management, or Taylorism. Using examples of Isotype associates’ roles in pre-war and wartime social and economic planning movements, this paper considers how Isotype emerged from and participated in the dissemination of Taylorisms different from the one understood now and suggests that Isotype was not a cultural translation of Taylorism but an agent in the production of new social arrangements.