A History of the French Working Class: 1815-70 v. 1
Marxa s optimism about the revolutionary potential of the European working class derived from his observation of the Parisian and Lyonnais workersa revolts of the 1830s and 1840s. The a new labour historya sought to explain such precocious class consciousness culture of artisans which, it argued, generated a a trade socialisma which aspired to build a a social Republica around producer cooperatives. More recently, the a new labour historya , a product of the ephemeral radical optimism of the 1960s, has come under assault from a revisionist historiography influenced by cultural anthropology, post--modernism and feminism, which questions such fundamental teleology of the a rise of laboura , the obsession with the a skilla of male workers. Labour historicans have been criticised for failing to integrate gender analysis or to analyse discourses about workers, for uncritical acceptance of the a mytha of the artisan and for viewing the Ancien Regime uncritically as a lost GOlden Age of craft skills. In the face of this onslaught is it still possible to seek to describe the a making of the French working classa ?
This volume attempts to grapple with the insights of the revisionists, while salvaging what can be salvaged from older labour historiography. It insists on the central importance of the national political context. The a peculiaritiesa of French labour owed much to workersa participation in the a Bourgeois Revolutiona of 1789--1830. The shifting labour policies of successive royalist, Bonapartist and Republican regimes were key determinants of the style of labour politics -- as was workersa ambivalent relationship with the anticlerical a progressivea wing of the bourgeoisie. However, on balance, the book re--asserts the importance of artisanal resistance to perceived threats to their work--culture. Moreover, it insists that although the a objectivea structural class--formation of the French working class was gradual and uneven, a hereditary proletariat was emerging by the 1860s.