A Workforce Divided: Community, Labor, and the State in Saint-Nazaire's Shipbuilding Industry, 1880-1910

A Workforce Divided: Community, Labor, and the State in Saint-Nazaire's Shipbuilding Industry, 1880-1910

Hardback Contributions to the Study of World Literature

By (author) Leslie A. Schuster


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  • Publisher: Greenwood Press
  • Format: Hardback | 248 pages
  • Dimensions: 155mm x 236mm x 23mm | 499g
  • Publication date: 30 December 2002
  • Publication City/Country: Westport
  • ISBN 10: 0313317755
  • ISBN 13: 9780313317750
  • Edition statement: New.
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations

Product description

In this study of the life and work of Saint-Nazaire's shipbuilding workers in the 30 years before World War I, Schuster shows that the consequences of industrial production for workers differed sharply according to their resources and experiences. She details the competing identities and divergent values maintained by shipbuilding workers, demonstrating that they were fostered by the interaction between state programs, industrial production, and the traditions pursued in the local realm. Third Republic economic policies for shipbuilding promoted unemployment and worker dependence on state officials over union leaders, and the uneven application of capitalist methods of production meant multiple workplace experiences that further undercut association. A workforce composed of industrial workers and agricultural producers brought markedly different priorities to the workplace. Urban-dwelling industrial workers proved dependent on shipbuilding, while workers commuting from La Grande Bri^D'ere, a nearby marshland, were property-owning producers, mostly peat-cutters, with traditions of self-government and a commanding community identity. They turned to ship production precisely to maintain rural settlement and agricultural production. These divergent values and responses to industrial work, in conjunction with multiple barriers to association, generated separate and even contrary labor concerns and protests.

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Author information

LESLIE A. SCHUSTER is Associate Professor of History at Rhode Island College.

Review quote

"Endorsement From Peter N. Stearns Provost and Professor of History, George Mason University: This is a significant addition to the rich tradition of local studies on the French working class...a well-crafted social history approach, with important implications about the nature of industrial change. Endorsement From Professor Donald Reid History Dept University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: In this well-researched monograph, Leslie Schuster takes labor history in a new direction by convincingly challenging canonical assumptions about skill, militancy, and politics among industrial workers. Endorsement From Herrick Chapman Institute of French Studies New York University: In this deeply researched study of the French workers who built ships in Saint-Naizares before World War I, Leslie Schuster challenges received wisdom about the history of working-class solidarity and politics. Endorsement From Judith F. Stone Professor of History Western Michigan University: Schuster has an excellent command of the multiple forces shaping working class experience: Republican state policies, uneven industrial development, organization of production, work cultures and local communities. She provides significant insights about the interconnections of state policies, industrial development, and twentieth century capitalism. Peasants and Workers requires readers to reexamine earlier assumptions and as such will be essential reading for those interested in French and labor history.