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Withdrawn Module: Workers and Society in France: 1830-1939 (HI913)

Please note that this module was available
until 2006, but has since been
withdrawn and is no longer available.


Tutor: Dr Roger Magraw
Module Aims

The module aims to introduce students to key themes in the historiography of the French working class and the labour movement from their origins to the period of the Popular Front. It will seek to explain the central 'paradox' of the apparent contrast between precocious and high levels of labour militancy and relatively low levels of formal labour organisation - political and industrial. Amongst the topics discussed will be the 'radical artisan' ; the working-class mobilisation of the Second Republic (1848-51) ; the Paris Commune ; workers and the Third Republic ; revolutionary syndicalism ; the impact of World War I on labour ; the Popular Front ; women workers , gender and the labour movement ; immigrant workers ; religion and anticlericalism in working -class culture. Consideration will be given to workers' autobiographies as a source for labour history.

Throughout the module attention will be given to contrasts between the approaches of the 'new social history' and those of subsequent paradigms influenced by discourse analysis and the 'linguistic turn', cultural anthropology and gender history.

Intended Learning Outcomes

a) Further development of seminar participation and presentation skills

b) The ability to engage with interdisciplinary approaches to labour history and to assess critically the dominant paradigms in social and socio-cultural historiography.

c) An ability to conduct comparative historical analysis through consideration of the 'peculiarities of the French' i.e. the factors which made French labour history and working -class culture distinctive.

d) To provide opportunity for the preparation and writing of a 5000-word essay - including choice and framing of an appropriate topic , construction of a bibliography and accumulation and ordering of evidence to frame a coherent analytical argument

Outline Syllabus

The Module will be taught in 8 seminar sessions.

  1. The 'Peculiarities of the French' : Current debates in the history of French labour
  2. 'The Artisan Republic' ? : Skilled craftsmen and protest in the Revolution of 1848
  3. The Paris Commune
  4. Workers and the Third Republic: Socialism , syndicalism and labour 1880-1914
  5. Class and gender: women workers and the making of the working class
  6. Class and religion : Catholicism , anticlericalism and working-class culture
  7. The Impact of War(1914-21): French labour in the era of World war One.
  8. Labour and the Popular Front (1934-39)
Illustrative Bibliography
  • Noiriel G, Workers in French Society in the 19th and 20th Centuries (1990)
  • Magraw R, A History of the French Working Class:1815-1939 2 Vols (1992)
  • Berlanstein L (ed), Rethinking Labor History (1991)
  • Katznelso I/Zolberg A (eds), Working-Class Formation (1985)
  • Traugott M, The French Worker: Autobiographies form the early-industrial Period (1993)
  • Truant C, Rites of Labor:Brotherhoods of Compagnonnages in ..France (199..)
  • Prothero I, Radical Artisans in England and France 1830-70 (1998)
  • Rancière J, The Nights of Labor: the Workers' Dream in 19th-Century France (1989)
  • Gould R, Insurgent Identities: Class, Community and Protest in France from 1848 to the Commune (1995)
  • Aminzade R, Ballots and Barricades : Class Formation and Republican Politics in France (1993)
  • Tombs R, The Paris Commune (1999)
  • Johnson M, The Paradise of Association : Political Culture and Popular Organisation in the Paris Commune (1996)
  • Ansell C, Schism and Solidarity: The Politics of Labor in the French Third Republic (2001)
  • Perrot M, Workers on Strike: 1870-90 ( 1987)
  • Cross G, Immigrant Workers in Industrial France : The Making of a New Working Class (1983)
  • Hilden P, Working Women and Socialist Politics in France 1880-1914 (1986)
  • Stuart R, Marxism at Work: Society and French Socialism 1882-1905 (1992)
  • Friedman G, State Making and Labor Movements: France and the United States 1876-1914 (1998)
  • Mitchell B, The Practical Revolutionaries: A New Interpretation of Revolutionary Syndicalism (1987)
  • Torigian M, Every Factory a Fortress : The French Labor Movement in the Age of Ford and Hitler (1999)