Study questions on William Sewell, Work and Revolution in France

Sewell study questions, chapters 7-12


Chapter 7.  According to Sewell….

What basic changes in the organization of artisans' work took place between 1800 and the 1840s?

How were organizational changes in the nature of work related to legal changes ushered in by the Revolution?

Did France "industrialize" in 1800-1850?  Explain.


Chapter 8.  According to Sewell….

What characterized French politics during the Napoleonic Empire?  Under the Restoration?

What were the mutual aid societies?  What were their functions?

Did compagnonnage change much after the Revolution?  Explain.

What are some of the persistent themes in the organization of workers' corporations in the period from 1789 to 1850?

In what sense were workers' corporations transformed in this half-century?

Why did journeymen's associations "drift" towards mutual aid?

Why were "uniform tariffs" such an important issue for workers in the 1830s?

During the Empire and Restoration, in what sense did the language of corporation change, how, and why?

What is Sewell's main point in this chapter?


Chapter 9.  According to Sewell….

How had the 1830 "July Revolution" exposed the limits of the corporate idiom?  As a result, how did workers' language change?

In what sense were workers using the idea of "liberty" in opposition of the idea of "possessive individualism" (capitalism)?

In what sense did the ideas of association and republicanism merge/blend in 1833 and why?

Explain why, for Sewell, the idea of association of all trades is evidence of workers' efforts to "remake" society.  Was this concept the same as "class consciousness"?  Explain.

Why does Sewell see the idea of all-trade association as a transformation of the corporate idiom?

Why was the 1833-34 workers' movement driven underground?


Chapter 10.  According to Sewell…

How did the meaning of the word "social" change during the 19th century?

What is the basis of Sewell's criticism of Louis Villerme's view of the French working class?

What was Louis Blanc's view of the working class?  What did Blanc envision as the proper role of the state?

Why does Sewell consider Charles Poncy and other worker-poets to be important?  How did Poncy conceive of the working class?

What is Sewell's main point about discourse on labor in the 1840s and about what it reveals regarding class relations?


Chapter 11.  According to Sewell…

In what ways did workers try to build a new social order in Spring 1848?

Why does Sewell focus his discussion on 1848 in Paris?

What exactly did the Provisional Government's 25 February 1848 decree on the right to work promise?  What responsibilities did it assign to the state?

How did workers understand the purpose and significance of the National Workshops?

In March 1848, in what sense was the revolution becoming a social revolution?

In 1848, what basic position did workers take in their discourse about labor?

Why does Sewell argue that workers' basic ideology was socialist in 1848?

What was the Luxembourg Commission and what were its functions?  How did workers understand its functions, and was it really a "workers" body?

What were the functions of the workers' clubs in 1848 and why were they important?

What sorts of continuities existed between 1848 trade corporations and older forms of association?  What about the 1848 corporations was new?

How did workers' militancy shape the activities of the Luxembourg Commission?

What evidence does Sewell cite of the strength of "old" corporate traditions in 1848?

In 1848, how did workers conceive of the republic and of the functions of corporations in the republic?

Why does Sewell think that the workers' movement was "socialistic" in 1848?  Was workers' socialism a product of agitation by middle-class socialist theorists?  Explain.

Why did the French "bourgeois" leadership react so strongly against the workers' movement in 1848?

Why did the abolition of the National Workshops lead to a workers' revolt in June 1848?

According to Sewell, what conclusions did French workers reach after the June Days?

Does Sewell think that the corporatist vision of socialism disappeared under Louis Napoleon Bonaparte?  Explain.


Chapter 12.  According to Sewell…

Can we trace a "logical" development of workers' class consciousness and socialism in France?  Explain.

What form did class conflict and class consciousness take in the period between 1789 and 1848?

What is the thesis of this book?