Social aspects of the decrease in working hours in 19th century France
In 19th century France, the long working hours produced worse conditions for the working classes. In our perspective, and that is new, the labour market produced massive externalities which it could not control. In our view, and it is the purpose of this paper, the analysis of the process of decreasing working hours, consists of identifying the consequences of very long working hours as externalities. The first part is devoted to the reasons why workers did not succeed at first to decrease their working hours: the authority of employers and the lack of social institutions which would have given collective weight to their actions. In a second part, we sustain that internalisation of externalities cannot be achieved without a collective effort to provide information and to produce new concepts of working hours. This historical analysis shows that only interests supported by collective forces are defended.
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