Plzeňské sympozia

Milan Hlavačka

The Super Machin of the 19th Century and a New Organisations of Time, Space and Society

pp. 117–129 (Czech), summary 129–130 (English)

‘The super machine of the 19th century' refers to the steam-engine railway, hence
a mechanised ensemble comprised of a steam engine mounted on a bogie and an iron
rail track. This mechanised and technologically inseparable ensemble brought
revolution not only in transport but also in the economic substance of society and in
the end in the manner of temporal and spatial perception as well. These changes are
examined by the author from five viewpoints: 1) the railway versus economic
liberalism, 2) the railway and the application of universal time - in general, 3) the railway
and the application of universal time - the Habsburg Monarchy, 4) the railway and
the new formation and perception of space, 5) social disciplining by universal time.
It arises from an analysis of the five viewpoints that eventually every member of society
had to adjust with his/her individual time first to the rhythm of the railway and subsequently to the rhythm of society controlled by universal time, which at the end of the 19th century became an oppressive instrument of social control. It was not until universal time that it was possible to coordinate social and production activities. The introduction of universal time by means of a machine of the 19th century may also be considered as the beginning of modern society.

Key words: Bohemian Lands, 19th century, cultural history, railway, time, spatial perception

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