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Social aspects of the decrease in working hours in 19th century France

  • Bourdieu, Jérôme
  • Reynaud, Bénédicte

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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Paper provided by CEPREMAP in its series CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) with number 9912.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: 1999
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpm:cepmap:9912
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  1. George R. Boyer, 1998. "The Historical Background of the Communist Manifesto," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 151-174, Fall.
  2. Voth, Hans-Joachim, 1998. "Time and Work in Eighteenth-Century London," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(01), pages 29-58, March.
  3. Brian McCormick, 1959. "Hours of work in British industry," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 12(3), pages 423-433, April.
  4. Bénédicte Reynaud-Cressent, 1984. "L'émergence de la catégorie de chômeur à la fin du XIXe siècle," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 165(1), pages 53-63.
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