What is it about?

Wood frame house construction is an example of a technological process based in custom. In the last century, it been predominant in North America, and is now spreading globally. This article discusses the implications of its origins, its wide spread use, and why it is resistant to change.

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Why is it important?

It takes an STS perspective on an historical innovation that has been ubiquitous in North America for two centuries. It suggests that the innovation was not an invention but rather a wide-spread social agreement of closure. It is an example of a Large Technological System that is resistant to change.


This article is an update to my 1997 article focusing on refuting the story of invention promoted in histories by Gideon and by Boorstin.

Ted Cavanagh
Dalhousie University

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This page is a summary of: Dream or Dilemma: The Unconscious Construction of the Modern House, Journal of Architectural Education, July 2016, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1080/10464883.2016.1197658.
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