In recent decades ergonomics has ventured into “isms,” picked up appellations and forged working alliances with other professions. Even a cursory look at some of the specialties and applications shows a field of great breadth. Yet public perception of ergonomics is very narrow, a circumstance that is causing introspection in the profession and encouraging action.
Feminism, nationalism and hedonism are among the “isms” studied by contemporary ergonomists. Even fundamentalism has a research following. In the paper “Enjoyment and Entertainment in East and West,” published in 2003 by Technische Unversiteit Eindhoven in The Netherlands, author Matthias Rauterberg reported that enjoyment is negatively impacted by religious fundamentalism.
Globalism has a significant impact on the profession. The organizers of ergonomics conferences can count on foreign participants, and usually offer programs that address issues in a global context. They can also count on representatives from allied professions.
How Broad is Ergonomics?
Each decade has added breadth to the field and more applications. Military ergonomics appeared after World War II. Industrial and occupational ergonomics appeared at about the same time. All three have evolved since then, apace with the evolution of computer and software technology. And in the 1980s, human-computer interaction matured into an individual specialty.
According to Peter Budnick, PhD CPE, an ergonomics lecturer and principal of Ergoweb Inc., “The applications for ergonomics are rather endless” but public perception is entirely focused on one portion of the field. Interviewed for The Ergonomics Report
This article originally appeared in The Ergonomics Report™ on 2005-07-20.