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Contemporary French social history: crisis or hidden renewal?

In a paper for a conference about social history held in 1989, I remarked that social history in France slipped from a macro-social to a micro-social viewpoint during the Eighties. In other words, it had left global paradigms, often summed up by the names of Marx or Ernest Labrousse (and their followers), and preferred various thematic approaches, small objects, but thickly analyzed, while rejecting general theories about social dynamics. (1) Today, thirteen years after, questions about the evolution of social history are becoming more radical still, if we observe recent conferences about that theme. (2) The reduction of the objects has often led to the disappearance of their social dimension. The definition of social history as such has lost its coherence, whether because French social history has opted for prospects borrowed from other national historiographies (for example social history of politics, social history of the State, (3) gender history), or because social history has been contested by other types of history which denied the primary role of social factors: history of representations, cultural history, anthropological history.

It is too easy to interpret these evolutions as a "crisis" or a critical turning point. In fact, we are witness to similar evolutions in other social sciences, which suggests putting aside this oversimple diagnosis, similar to journalistic or essayist simplifications, about the triumph of individuals in our contemporary societies. The miniaturization of objects is not only an intellectual prospect but also the consequence of a sociological law of evolution of expanding disciplines. The growing number of scholars and of scientific publications prompts the limitation of the scale of research in function of the scientific division of labor. This trend was already denounced at the beginning of this process, in natural sciences, during the 19th century. Fortunately, contemporary history presents an advantage, in that its chronological limits are continuously growing. But two negative counterparts limit this benefit. The growth of scientific publications is faster than the expansion of the field, since the archival regulations--in particular in France for "sensitive" themes (and social themes are always such)--hinder historians in consulting new archives, in particular for the second half of 20th century. The second difficulty is that social historians are competing, often with unequal means, with scholars of other social sciences who work primarily on the more recent period of society since the sixties. However, an intellectual benefit derives from the reduction of objects and competition with other disciplines, which may be useful to social history: in most cases, it did not dissolve the social into the individual, but permitted better understanding of the links between the parts and the whole, leading to a "social history of individuals" influenced by theoretical frameworks derived from Norbert Elias and Pierre Bourdieu.

Group Portraits

We may demonstrate these positive results, thanks to the multiplication, in French social history, of studies about medium or small size groups: for example about "capacites" (people characterized by an important cultural capital), law bourgeoisie, old or recent aristocracy, traditional or modern middle classes, intellectual or artistic professions, political or religious elites, provincial entrepreneurs of the Second Empire, or even urban or rural workers studied as communities of living. (4) All these publications of the last decade keep the prospect of the new social history of the Eighties: the micro-historical approach based on collective biographies, genealogical familial analysis, case studies using private and public sources or even oral archives invented by historians themselves, to get an inner vision of the group at the individual level. Thanks to this patient scrutiny, we may understand subterranean or hidden conflicts between elites, between bourgeois or middle-class groups defined by the possession of different types of capital, (5) situated at discrepant moments of their social or spatial trajectories, heirs to or deprived of symbolic capital, or aspiring to accumulate some to strengthen their social position. Even monographs about popular classes confirm that there exist different lines of division within that milieu and explain why the usual expression in 19th century French language (and in English too) was "les classes ouvrieres" (working classes) and not "la classe ouvriere". Behind the apparent idyllic immobility of rural communities, enhanced by former rural history, appear too clearly conflicts, passions, violence--the social dynamics of peasant societies. (6)

All these types of conflicts which were explained, some decades earlier, in political terms or, more often, simply underestimated, may be now interpreted thanks to a social and cultural or a meritocratic mode of domination, which has been ignored for a long period (in spite of the prosperity of history of education) because of the liberal, or Marxist, intellectual prejudices in favour of the dominant economic mode of domination, presented as the only key for modern society. (7)

Even recent works about the different types of aristocracies have rejected traditional sketches emphasizing their social failure derived from their political inability to found longlasting regimes in France. Instead of this negative vision, we now possess regional monographs describing contrasting attempts of aristocrats adapting to modern society. Claude-Isabelle Brelot, who published one the best informed studies of aristocracy, defines even a "reinvention" of aristocracy after Revolution. After the failure of the Restoration, which tried to recreate a rural landlord class based on local power, inspired from the English gentry, noble families of Franche-Comte reconverted their aspirations with the help of public resources. They acted at two levels: through the meritocratic networks of modern society, and the reactivation of snobbism, derived from old forms of prestige, stubbornly reconstructing their memory as a group thanks to their familial and genealogical history. This aggiornamento is comparable, ceteris paribus, to its Prussian or English equivalents. (8)

Nevertheless, the main weakness of this enterprise was the lack of an important landed capital. Many heirs of rural gentry were obliged to enter in public service to compensate for their diminishing rents. (9) But this required sending boys to urban boarding schools or faculties and even accepting, in a centralized country, leaving the region of birth to climb up the administrative ladder and so to renounce to the initial goal of regional domination.


The development of monographs about different professions has also revealed hidden dynamics of modern French society. The oversimplifying theory of professionalization, borrowed from American or English sociology, (10) does not fit in the peculiarities of these groups in contemporary France. These groups are more and more divided between the ideal of liberal professions (distinct from the English, more elitist, notion of "professions") and that of "intellectuals" or "experts", i.e. organic intellectuals--linked to emerging large institutions or organizations defending corporate issues. Changing political contexts, transformations of the State, diffusion of culture and education in broader strata confer to these professions a function of serving as social crossroads and social melting pot. Older or more established professions are used as models with necessary adaptations by more recent ones. So, for example, lawyers for physicians, (11) physicians for journalists, (12) writers for artists, (13) scientists for engineers and technicians, engineers and/or artists for architects, and so on. In spite of these intertwined influences, the final process of organization is never aligned on a uniform professionalization scheme as supposed by sociological theories. Tensions and divisions persist within each group about the best definition of its social ideal and about the ways to achieve it. The final result depends on the various balances between market forces and State role, on elitist closure or confidence in meritocratic procedures, on the respective role of Paris and regions in the distribution of these groups, on the capacity to control professional formations, on their dependence on other elites or their possibility of winning an autonomous political role.


In the past decade, French social historians have tried too to transfer these micro-level prospects on privileged groups to ordinary people or even to social dynamics at large. They have endeavored to study social mobility in the past, which was an American sociological specialty, but largely neglected by European historians. But they did not use, as did contemporary sociologists, aggregated data or, as in works quoted above, small samples. Both Jacques Dupaquier and his team and Jean-Luc Pinol have combined methods borrowed from demographic history and sociological surveys. Jean-Luc Pinol defined his viewpoint in Les mobilites de la grande ville as "a social history of individuals." (14) We might also call it a collective biography of common men and women.

The main conclusions of Pinol's book on the social evolution of Lyons under the Third Republic and of the first results of the "Three Thousand Families" Survey launched by Jacques Dupaquier, and pursued by other scholars now, are to correct our oversimplified vision of mobilities during the 19th century and the first part of the 20th. (15) Instead of dualist oppositions (rural/urban, elites/common people), Pinol suggests a differentiated picture of social trajectories, depending on the importance of the place of birth, on the degree of intermixture of lodgings and urban settings where migrants settled themselves. Rural migrants generally find jobs in shops or non-qualified services, while manual workers or artisans have generally more urban backgrounds. But in spite of its growth and demographic weights, Lyons is also the origin of migrations towards other regions or colonies and even Paris, a phenomenon which is absent in popular boroughs of the French capital. In spite of all these opportunities, only 13% of Lyons inhabitants, born after the 1870 war, succeeded in their social ascent, while 8% declined in the social scale and the large majority (three quarters) remained more or less at the same level. These percentages converge with the information given by older surveys on wealth distribution directed by A. Daumard (1973) or by monographs about the petite bourgeoisie. (16) These percentages are only relative figures, however, for two reasons: first, they probably underestimate effective mobility, since an unknown but certain fraction of the sample is lost for observation because of geographical mobility; second, these figures have to be compared with an older generation, which is the only true perspective for the individuals under examination. To estimate their own success or failure, members of this generation could only compare themselves to their parents, while, unconsciously, historians apply a scale of mobility derived from recent periods, where mobility is both more common and thus very blurred. In this respect, the "Three Thousand Families" survey suggests that mobility was even more restricted, in the preceding generation, and that apparent geographical mobility could be a temporary strategy to obtain new resources for keeping an asset in land and coming back to the rural activity after temporary urban employment and so, in reality, to escape social (and spatial) mobility. (17)

Men and Women

With some delay, compared to other historiographies, the last decade has been marked in France too by the emergence of gender history as an important dimension of social history. Though it did not gain the same institutional recognition, history of women or gender history (both expressions are competing still) is no longer a militant and outsider subdiscipline. (18) Historical studies and general views inspired by Michelle Perrot, Madeleine Reberioux or Anglo-saxon historians obliged traditional social history to pose differently some major issues concerning both sexes in matters such as generations, education, culture and politics, public and private spheres. They particularly put into question that arbitrary distinction between social and political history, one of the main negative legacies of the so-called "Annales school". A gendered prospect required different readings of major founding events of the national historiography (French Revolution, 1848 Revolution, Birth of the Third Republic, political and social effects of wars). More important yet, this approach is becoming autonomous since it is divided between competing paradigms and interpretations leading to internal polemics. This is a concrete illustration of its vitality, hopelessly absent from traditional classical historiography centered on men, and for men's purposes.

We may take for example the debate about Mona Ozouf's book, Les Mots des femmes. Essai sur la singularite francaise (1995) (19) or, for another perspective, French critical views about Anglo-saxon interpretations of French history of women. At the risk of oversimplifying, the issue is to know if the French 19th century, from the gender viewpoint, differed or not from English, German or American 19th centuries, in spite of the initial revolutionary rupture and, for some interpretations, because of it.

These debates are full of traps and difficulties for three reasons. The first one is inherent to gender history: sources, by definition, because of male cultural and political domination, are exclusively masculine, or if not, are written by exceptional--and thus non-representative-women. The second one is the national overinterpretation of historical facts, because national images are largely founded on gendered stereotypes, in particular in the 19th century, this national century par excellence, which influences sources. Historians of both sexes, depending on their national origins, are themselves, consciously or not, conditioned by these preliminary representations and prejudices. The third reason is the political overdetermination of competing interpretations: it echoes contemporary debates on the successes or failures of feminist struggles, on the relation between older and more recent feminisms, on the responsibilities of past and present politicians, concerning these issues. (20)

One of the originalities of women's history is to rejuvenate older issues which monographical closure, typical of dominant masculine history, has forgotten, due to myopic hyperspecialization: the links between social history and biology, which had been explored twenty years ago through quantitative procedures but progressively forgotten; the necessity to change taken-for-granted chronologies, borrowed from politics or economics but often misleading; a new geography of a nation divided on other cleavages than the classical opposition between tradition and modernity. (21) A new reading of the French demographic singularities, in particular the precocious diffusion of Malthusianism, is also necessary. It implies a partial, if private challenge to inherited masculine and feminine roles, which have been explored, for example, by Anne Marie Sohn. She has defined a mainstream of diffusion of a new sexual order along what she calls the "P.L.M. axis of modernity". (22) Paris and the biggest provincial towns (Lyons, Marseille), plus middle-range cities in plains and rural counties influenced by them, are the main sites of a silent revolution where a new sexuality appears along with a larger access to new types of work for women--which implies some economic feminine independence. Contraceptive practices (voluntary or clandestine, by abortion, under the stress of economic or social constraints) increase the number of small-size families where children are no longer considered only as an economic charge or future source of work. (23) All these transformations have major social consequences in specific regions or strata but also presuppose religious, cultural and political evolutions which blur the conventional division of labor among the traditional historical subdisciplines. This obliges us to think of new combinations that we may call "a cultural history of society", changing the traditional causalities and challenging a priori abstract classifications whereupon social history relied.

Towards a "Cultural History of Society"?

This new prospect is frequently mixed with the idea that social history is disappearing as such and may be confused with borderline disciplines (social anthropology, biological history, historical sociology, social psychology, political science, and so on). It is the temptation to submit to what Alain Corbin, following Alphonse Dupront, called "le vertige des foisonnements". (24) This proliferation of approaches, far from being a sign of crisis is an index of vitality, moving barriers, critical stance. It leads however to a paradox, well illustrated by Alain Corbin and his disciples: (25) the risk of dissolution of "social" as such in what he himself calls undefinable history ("histoire sans nom").

Since social history puts on its agenda the representation of social as an obligatory preliminary to understanding and identifying society, we are allowed to turn upside down the principles of explanation and to go further in the constructivist logics which inspired so many historical and sociological works in the last twenty years. (26) We may call this prospect, following Roger Chartier, who addressed other themes when using it, a "cultural history of the social" or society, (27) and no longer just a social history of representations, sensibilities or culture. This reversed paradigm is not easy to accept because of ambiguities attached to the word culture in all European languages and because most adepts of this prospect have, till now, refused or neglected to give a general theory of their practice or have limited their reflections to their specific field of research. The most coherent of "culturalists" adopt an anthropological viewpoint, replacing the sociological framework dominant until now in classical social history. Some others, though very few in France, relatively spared by postmodernist excesses, follow the hints of the linguistic turn and treat any testimony or document as texts or fictions, which ruins historical methods and, by the same token, history as a specific discipline.

But social anthropology was conceived, at its origins, for societies differing completely from contemporary societies. The problem of transfer of concepts and theoretical frameworks to historical and complex societies has not been solved. It is not surprising that anthropological approaches are more convincing in extreme situations or for very specific groups and periods, where the conditions of validity of anthropological studies on restricted societies are valuable: wars, insurrections, panic and episodes of extreme violence, multiple deviant behaviors, groups or individuals placed in closed institutions (boarding schools, hospitals, convents, prison, military camps), or isolated rural communities. (28)

The other difficulty introduced among historians by this approach is more productive: it obliges us to challenge our classical chronological divisions, which social history had lazily borrowed from political, military or economic history. A cultural approach to society underlines, to quote the famous phrase by the German philosopher Ernst Bloch, the "non contemporaneity of contemporary people", discrepancies and gaps between levels and forms of cultures in the same society. In addition, representations and sensibilities oppose spaces and generation or groups, depending on their proximities to diffusion networks of cultural products or ways of life. For a country so diverse and still rural as was France in the 19th century and in a large section of the 20th, these differentiations between spaces and cultural strata are quite visible. (29) Yet, to draw these cartographies and identify these differentiations of the sociocultural field, we must reverse many of the classical questions of previous social history. No more schools or barracks as tools of formation or taming (if we follow Michel Foucault), or as channels of a "civilizing process" (if we follow Norbert Elias), but as bargaining places, as translation processes (in a figurative or proper meaning), as places of transfers and contacts, positive or negative, between rural, dialectal, popular, regional habitus, (if we follow yet Pierre Bourdieu) and what I propose to call "national habitus" (30) progressively defined by leading elements of elites and middle classes occupying for a while an hegemonic cultural position. (31)

This specific habitus is not an inherited cultural practice formed through the familial and primary process of socialization, as in the notion of social habitus defined by P. Bourdieu. It is a secondary product, historically and politically (or even religiously in some countries) elaborated within the national space, through progressive (and unequal) insertion of each individual, each family, each rural or urban community, or even each group, in a network of external references defined by elites and global institutions (schools, administrations, churches, professions, and so on) which help them, in some circumstances where survival is not assured by day-to-day adaptation or short range strategies. It cannot be reduced to national stereotypes that each European country has produced about its neighbors, which a cultural history of the nation in a restricted meaning has already defined. It bears too a positive affirmation of a "collective us", linked to the "nationalization of the masses" (as with George Mosse), to the invention of an "imagined community" (Benedict Anderson) but also to a temporary adhesion, willy nilly or faute de mieux, to a collective project which encompasses a larger group than local community, family, or profession. In ordinary circumstances, it remains hidden, or latent, but its existence, influence or limits may be proved, indirectly, in periods of crisis. Then, in spite of what anxious elites feared about social dissent, it generally proved to be stronger than individual survival reflexes, regional or religious identities, or class solidarities against national elites. (32)

The recent bibliography about different forms of mass culture in France or elsewhere, not only viewed as commercialized products but as examples of transfers and interactive manipulations between different levels and visions of society at large, are in some ways contributions to this understanding of national habitus. Indeed, they are the only nationally distributed cultural goods which combine both French (or English, or German, or Italian ...) specificities and common European characteristics, since the construction of nations was an interactive European process. (33) This leads to the necessity of European comparisons to link macro-and micro-social levels.


It is always difficult to propose hypotheses about new direction of social history (which might be already called socio-cultural history to take into account the recent changing prospects). Nobody is able to pretend to have read even a substantial part of the myriad historical productions on contemporary social history. Since new trends take a long time to appear publicly, we choose to emphasize what is the most opposite to the main trends of current historiography. In general, more than a decade is necessary between the launching of new trends and their public diffusion to a larger readership. The trends initiated in the Eighties are about to get this status, early in the 21st century. To correct their defects, described in the preceding paragraphs, I assume that a collective, comparative and transnational effort is necessary. Without it, national or infranational closure and atheoretical collections of monographs will continue to dominate with declining outputs and impacts.

My main argument in proposing this paradoxical thesis against the mainstream orientation is borrowed from other periods. In fact, this proposal is already realized for other periods or neighbor disciplines. However, it must not be confused with a backward movement to older global or macro-social history. It is, on the contrary, a way of imitating directions explored within Early Modern history, and in particular, by historians of the 18th century who, more and more, transgress the limits of their century--annexing the early 19th century, in spite of the fetishism of the Revolutionary divide. They also neglect national borders when they analyse social-cultural themes. For these same objectives, contemporary history must get rid of its own timidity and follow the same orientations as the historiography of the preceding period. It must combine monographic depth with multivariate confrontations of different social, cultural and national contexts, through the transfer of problematics beyond national territories. This is the only way to know if the specificities derived from the evidence are explained by the localization, by the social configuration, by the historical moment or by the readapation or variations of phenomena present elsewhere or earlier. For the study of leisure (or more generally of relations with human time (34)), of sports, sickness or pain (i.e. of relation with human body (35)), of gender, of great cities as melting pots or spaces of confrontation among multiple identities, (36) and so on, monographic or micro-social approaches will remain without true conclusion or possible generalization, if no comparative framework is not previously inserted or prepared. Case studies prove that these comparisons are more productive and coherent, if they have been considered from the start in a collective and multinational setting. It is the approximate and second-hand comparisons which have contributed to the somewhat mixed reception or outright rejection and to historians' comparative neglect of method.

Comparisons, in sociocultural history, in spite of their difficulties and risks, bring the historian their reflexive power to better understand objects which are always too restricted, with sources always incomplete. Each society produces specific types of sources about social and cultural phenomena, reflecting administrative traditions and the respective roles of State and private groups. With a comparative view, it is possible to fill the gaps in one context with information borrowed from another one, or transfer questions from one context to the other, following here precepts enunciated by Marc Bloch in his programmatic text of 1928: "Pour une histoire comparee des societes europeennes". (37) French historiography, which has produced to this point fewer comparisons than other Western historiographies, might gain an advantage from its relative backwardness. (38) It is easier for it to leave aside exhausted prospects which are pursued elsewhere through academic routine. Its enduring reflection over the crises of nation and phenomena of memories--which has emulated similar researches in neighboring countries--might be also used as a preliminary travail du deuil, to challenge disciplinary borders and the national unconscious which are the eternal and principal brakes on historical imagination, today and yesterday.

Institut d'histoire moderne et contemporaine

75005 Paris



(1.) Christophe Charle, "Macro-histoire sociale et micro-histoire sociale. Quelques reflexions sur l'evolution des methodes en histoire sociale depuis dix ans" in C. Charle (ed.), Histoire sociale, histoire globale? (Paris, 1993), 45-47. The text was written at the beginning of 1989 for a conference held in January. The meaning of the Italian term microstoria is very different from what I call here micro-social history. See Jacques Revel, Jeux d'echelles. La micro-analyse a l'experience (Paris, 1996).

(2.) See the conference organized by Juergen Kocka for the International Commission of Social History of the Congress of Historical Sciences, Berlin, Feb. 15-6, 2002.

(3.) Gerard Noiriel, Etat, Nation et Immigration. Vers une histoire du pouvoir (Paris, 2001). Rogers Brubaker, Citoyennete et Nationalite en France et en Allemagne (Paris, 1997): American: Citizenship and nationhood in France and Germany (Cambridge, MA, 1992)

(4.) Yannic Le Marec, Le Temps des capacites. Les diplomas nantais a la conquete du pouvoir dans la ville (Paris, 2000). Christophe Charle, "La bourgeoisie de robe en France au XIXe siecle," Le Mouvement social 181 (1997): 52-72. Lucien Karpik, Les Avocats. Entre l'Etat, le public et le marche, XIIIe-XXe siecle (Paris, 1995). English: French Lawyers: a study in collective action, 1274 to 1994 (Oxford, 1999). Claude Isabelle Brelot, La Noblesse reinventee. Nobles de Franche-Comte de 1814 a 1870, 2 vol (Besancon, 1992). Natalie Petiteau, Elites et mobilies. La noblesse d'Empire au XIXe siecle (1808-1914) (Paris, 1997). Jean-Francois Chanet, L'Ecole republicaine et les petites parries (Paris, 1996). Jacques Girault, Instituteurs et professeurs, une culture syndicale dans la societe francaise (fin XIXe-XXe siecles) (Paris, 1996). Delphine Gardey, La Dactylographe et l'expeditionnaire: histoire des employes de bureau 1890-1930 (Paris, 2001). Jean-Louis Deaucourt, Premieres loges, Paris et ses concierges au XIXe siecle (Paris, 1992). Marc Martin, Medias et journalistes de la Republique (Paris, 1997). Christian Delporte, Les Journalistes en France 1880-1950. Naissance d'une profession (Paris, 1998). Nicholas Papayannis, The Coachmen of Ninetenth-Century Paris: service workers and class consciousness (Baton Rouge, LA, 1993). Friedhelm Boll, Antoine Prost, Jean-Louis Robert, L'Invention des syndicalismes. Le syndicalisme en Europe occidentale a la fin du XIX siecle (Paris, 1997). Nancy L. Green, Du Sentier a la 7eme avenue. La confection et les immigres Paris-New York 1880-1980 (Paris, 1998). English: Ready to Wear and Ready to Work: a Century of Industry and Immigrants in Paris and New York (Durham, NC, 1997). Judith G. Coffin, The Politics of Women's Work: The Paris Garment Trades 1750-1915, (Princeton, 1996).

(5.) Jean Ruhlmann, Ni bourgeois, Ni Proletaires. (Paris, 2000). Christophe Charle, "The Middle Classes in France: Social and Political Functions of Semantic Pluralism from 1870-2000," in N. Hiwatari, L. Schoppa, and Olivier Zunz (eds), Social Contracts Under Stress. The Middle Classes of America, Europe and Japan at the Turn of the Century (New York, 2002), 66-88.

(6.) Frederic Chauvaud, Les Passions villageoises au XIXe siecle. Les emotions rurales dans les pays de Beauce, du Hurepoix et du Mantois (Paris, 1995).

(7.) Christophe Charle, Les Elites de la Republique (1880-1900) (Paris, 1987). Christophe Charle, Histoire sociale de la France au XIXe siecle (Paris, 1987). (3rd expanded ed. 2001). In English: A Social History of France in the XIXth Century (Oxford, 1993). A similar unorthodox view of English social dynamics was proposed, at the same time, by Harold Perkin, The Rise of Professional Society, England since 1880 (London, 1989, 2002).

(8.) Maria Malesta, Le aristocrazie terriere nell'Europa contemporanea (Rome, 1999).

(9.) Claude-Isabelle Brelot, La Noblesse reinventee.

(10.) For historical or sociological discussions of the inadequacy of this theoretical prospect see Karpik, Les Avocats. Pierre Bourdieu, Reponses, with Loic J.D. Wacquant (Paris, 1992). In English: An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology (Chicago, 1992).Christophe Charle Intellectuels, Bildungsburgertum et professions au XIXe siecle. Essai de bilan historiographique compare, Allemagne-France," Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales 106-107 (1995): 85-95. Hannes Siegrist, Advokat, Burger und Staat, Sozialgeschichte der Rechtsanwalte in Deutschland, halien und der Schweiz (18.-20 .jh), 2 vol (Frankfurt, 1996).

(11.) Karpik, Les Avocats. Pierre Guillaume, Le Role Social du medecin depuis deux siecles, (Paris, 1996). George Weisz, The Medical Mandarins, The French Academy of Medicine in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries (Oxford, 1995).

(12.) Martin, Medias et journalistes de la Republique. Delporte, Les Journalistes en France.

(13.) Philip Nord, Impressionists and Politics (London, 2000). Cynthia & Harrison White, La carriere des peintres au XIXe siecle (Paris, 1991). American: Canvases and Careers, Institutional Change in the French Painting World (New York, 1965); with a new foreword and a new afterword (Chicago, 1993).

(14.) Jean-Luc Pinol, Les Mobilites de la grande ville, Lyon XIXe-XXe siecles (Paris, 1991), 27.

(15) Jacques Dupaquier & Denis Kessler, La Societe francaise au XIXe siecle (Paris, 1992). Paul-Andre Rosenthal, Les Sentiers invisibles. Espace, familles et migrations dans la France du XIXe siecle (Paris, 1999).

(16.) Geoffrey Crossick & Heinz-Gerhard Haupt, The Petite Bourgeoisie in Europe 1780-1914 (London, 1995). Bernadette Angleraud, Les Boulangers lyonnais au XIXe siecle (Paris, 1998).

(17.) Jerome Bourdieu, G. Postel-Vinay P.-A. Rosental, A. Suwa-Eisenmann, "Migrations et transmission inter-generationelles dans la France du XIXe et du debut du XXe siecle," Annales Histoire Sciences sociales 4 (2000): 749-789.

(18.) This linguistic quarrel is specific to France. Its political background is linked to French sensibility to linguistic domination by Anglo-saxon scientific terminology. These debates are very well summed up by: Michelle Perrot, Les Femmes ou les silences de l'histoire (Paris, 1998). Francoise Thebaud, Ecrire l'histoire des femmes (Paris, 1998). Anne-Marie Sohn, Du premier baiser a l'alcove. La sexualite des Francais au quotidien 1850-1950 (Paris, 1996).

(19.) (1995) (expanded reedition: 1999, with a postface which answers

objections published in Le Debat, n 87, Nov.-Dec.1995). Michelle Perrot reedited her critical review "Une histoire sans affrontement" in Perrot, Les Femmes, 407-412; American translation Mona Ozouf, Women's Words: an essay on French singularity (Chicago, 1997).

(20.) Christine Bard, Un Siecle d'antifeminisme (Paris, 1999). Alain Corbin, Jacqueline Lalouette, Michele Riot-Sarcey, Femmes dans la Cite 1815-1871 (Grane, 1997). Joan W. Scott, La Citoyenne paradoxale : les feministes francaises et les droits de l'homme (Paris, 1998). In English: Only Paradoxes to Offer: French Feminists and the Rights of Man (Cambridge, Mass, 1996).

(21.) Annick Tillier, Des criminelles au village. Femmes infanticides en Bretagne (1825-1865), preface d'Alain Corbin (Rennes, 2001).

(22.) Anne-Marie Sohn, Chrysalides, Femmes dans la vie privee (XIXe-XXe sieles), 2 vol. (Paris, 1996). Francis Ronsin, Les Divorciaires: affrontements politques et conceptions du mariage dans la France du XIXe siecle (Paris, 1992).

(23.) Catherine Omnes, Ouvrieres parisiennes. Marches du travail et trajectoires professionelles au 20e siecle (Paris, 1997).

(24.) Alain Corbin, "'Le vertige des foisonnements'. Esquisse panoramique d'une histoire sans nom," Revue d'histoire moderne et contemporaine 39-1 (1992): 103-126.

(25.) Simone Delattre, Les Douze heures noires. La nuit a Paris au XIXe siecle (Paris, 2000).

(26.) Christophe Charle, Naissance des "intellectuels" (1880-1900) (Paris, 1990). Robert Salais, Nicolas Baverez, Benedicte Reynaud, L'Invention du chomage (Paris, 1999). Christian Topalov, Naissance du chomeur 1880-1910 (Paris, 1994). Jean-Noel Luc, L'Invention du jeune enfant au XIXe siecle, De la salle d'asile a l'ecole maternelle (Paris, 1997).

(27.) Roger Chartier, "Le monde comme representation," Annales (ESC) n 6 (1989): 1505-1520. American translation in: On the Edge of the Cliff: History, Language, and Practices (Baltimore, 1989).

(28.) Alain Corbin, Le village des cannibales (Paris, 1990). American: The Village of Cannibals: Rage and Murder in France, 1870 (Cambridge MA, 1992). Jean-Claude Caron, A l'Ecole de la violence, Chatiments et sevices dans l'institution scolaire au XIXe siecle (Paris, 1999). Andre Gueslin & Dominique Kalifa, Les Exclus en Europe (1830-1930) (Paris, 1999). Odile Roynette, "Bons pour le service." L' experience de la caserne en France a la fin du XIXe siecle (Paris, 2000). Ann-Louise Shapiro, Breaking the Codes. Female Criminality in Fin de Siecle Paris (Stanford, 1996). Philippe Artieres (ed), Le Livre des vies coupables. Autobiographies de criminels (1896-1909) (Paris, (2000). Jean Francois Wagniart, Le Vagabond a la fin du XIXe siecle (Paris, 1999).

(29.) Daniel Roche, Histoire des choses banales, Naissance de la consommation XVIIe-XIXe siecles (Paris, 1997). In English: A History of Everyday Things: The Birth of Consumption in France, 1600-1800 (Cambridge, MA, 2000).

(30.) I explain this idea in a comparative way in my book La crise des societe imperiales (1900-1940), essai d'histoire sociale comparee de l'Allemagne, de la France et de la Grande-Bretagne (Paris, 2001), chapter 4.

(31.) Chanet, L'Ecole republicaine et les petites patries. Luc, L'Invention du jeune enfant. Even if the origins of these historical researches were influenced by the way Michel Foucault and his followers defined the problem, their conclusions have radically challenged the "foucaultian" vision of a "pre-totalitarian" 19th century.

(32.) The 1940 crisis where these two negative possibilities were present and almost won against national mobilization shows how weak French national habitus was--victorious in 1914, already half ruined less than thirty years later.

(33.) Anne-Marie Thiesse, Le roman du quotidian (Paris, 1984, 2000). Anne-Marie Thiesse, La cr&tion des identites nationales en Europe (Paris, 1998). Dominique Kalifa, L'Encre et le sang (Paris, 1994). Jean-Louis Robert and Daniel Tartakowsky, Paris le peuple XVIIIe-XIXe siecles (Paris, 1999). Judith Lyon-Caen, Lectures et usages du roman en France de 1830 a l'avenement du Second Empire, 3 vol. (Ph.D., Universite de Paris-I, sous la direction d'Alain Corbin, 2002).

(34.) Alain Corbin, L'Avenement des loisirs (Paris, 1995).

(35.) Ronald Hubscher, Jean Durry, Bernard Jeu, Gilbert Garrier, L'histoire en mouvements: le sport dans la societe francaise aux XIXe et XXe siecles (Paris, 1992). Lion Murard, Patrick Zylberman, L'Hygiene dans la Republique, la sante publique en France ou l'utopie contrariee, 1870-1918 (Paris, 1996).

(36.) Nancy L. Green, Du Sentier a la 7eme avenue. Marie-Claude Blanc-Chaleard, Les Italiens dans l'est parisien. Une histoire d'integration (annees 1880-1960) (Rome, 2000). Charle & Roche (eds), Capitales culturelles, capitales symboliques, Paris et les experiences europeennes XVIIIe-XXe siecles (Paris, 2002).

(37.) Reprinted in Melanges historiques v. I (Paris, 1983), 16-40, esp 20.

(38.) Hartmut Kaelble, "La recherche europeenne en histoire sociale" Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales 106-107 (1995): 67-79.

By Christophe Charle

Universite de Paris--I Pantheon-Sorbonne
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Title Annotation:Central Issues
Author:Charle, Christophe
Publication:Journal of Social History
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Sep 22, 2003
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