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Supervision and Authority in Industry: Western European Experiences, 1830-1939

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Volume 15

International Studies in Social History

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Supervision and Authority in Industry

Western European Experiences, 1830-1939

Edited by Patricia Van den Eeckhout

244 pages, 25 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-600-9 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (August 2009)

eISBN 978-1-84545-942-0 eBook

Hb   Buy the eBook from these vendors Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


The number of studies discussing the labour relationship under industrial capitalism is overwhelming, but the literature on labour and its concrete, day-today shop-floor practices is much less abundant. How and by whom workers were supervised is one of the neglected aspects in the history of labour relations. After an insightful introductory chapter discussing the different forms of supervision in the United States, Britain, France and Germany before the First World War, the case studies in this volume focus on foremen: vital, but largely unstudied figures in the history of factory life, labour relations and management. Illustrating the multiple faces of the foreman, the contributors examine the artisanal sector, textiles, mining, printing, engineering, heavy manufacturing and car industries in Western Europe and show that the foreman was a multifaceted character who possessed technical expertise in addition to educational and organizational qualities. This comprehensive volume is further enhanced by comparisons with practices of supervision in Russia, Japan, China and India.

Patricia Van den Eeckhout is Professor of History and Discourse Analysis at the Vrije Universiteit, Brussel. She has published on the historiography of social history and the history of social housing policy, working-class family income, consumption, advertising, leisure, social statistics and labor relations.

Subject: Economic History 18th/19th Century History 20th Century History
Area: North America Europe


List of Illustrations
List of Tables
List of Figures
List of Abbreviations

Chapter 1. Foremen in American and Western European Industry before the First World War
Patricia Van den Eeckhout

Chapter 2. Work Organisation and Supervision in the Textile Industry: The Case of La España Industrial, Barcelona (1849-1888)
Cristina Borderías

Chapter 3. Salaried Authority. The Versatile Fate of Contremaîtres in the Ghent Cotton Industry (1830-1914)
Peter Scholliers

Chapter 4. Secrets, Lies and Contracts: Conflicts between Employers and Their Foremen in Nineteenth-Century Ghent (1885-1913)
Patricia Van den Eeckhout

Chapter 5. ‘To Organise Liberty’: Foremen and the Effort Bargain during British Industrialisation
James A. Jaffe

Chapter 6. Wage Forms and Hierarchy in Late Nineteenth-Century French Industry
Jérôme Bourdieu and Gilles Postel-Vinay

Chapter 7. Leading Hands at Work: the Impact of Changes in Technology, Work Organisation and Payment Systems on Supervision in the British Engineering Industry (1870-1914)
Joseph Melling

Chapter 8. ‘Stealing the Souls of Men’: Employers, Supervisors and Work Organisation, c. 1890-1939
Richard Coopey and Alan McKinlay

Chapter 9. Porions and Conducteurs: Supervisory Functions in the Belgian Limburg Coal-Mining Industry (1917-1939)
Bart Delbroek

Patricia Van den Eeckhout

Notes on Contributors

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