Forging Harmony in The Social Organism: Industry and the Power of Psychometric Techniques

This paper analyses the initiating role of industry in educational selection by means of
psychometric techniques used, for example, in psycho-physiological laboratories such as the one
associated with a technical vocational school in Luxembourg as of the 1920s. The paper investigates whether such techniques were used strategically in vocational orientation in order to underline an ethic of individual harmony via objectified observation and categorization of the talents of apprentices. What hidden agendas may have underpinned the industry’s rhetoric regarding the rebirth of the “individual” and the empowerment of personal vocation through science-oriented processes like quantification, measurement, and rational assessment? Could such a rationale have functioned to legitimize the industry’s self-image as a privileged force in structuring individual lives and the social fabric? The paper addresses these matters.

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