Forging Political Identity

Forging Political Identity : Silk and Metal Workers in Lyon, France 1900-1939

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Escaping the traditional focus on Paris, the author examines the divergent political identities of two occupational groups in Lyon, metal and silk workers, who, despite having lived and worked in the same city, developed different patterns of political practices and bore distinct political identities. This book also examines in detail the way that gender relations influenced industrial change, skill, and political identity. Combining empirical data collected in French archives with social science theory and methods, this study argues that political identities were shaped by the intersection of the prevailing political climate with the social relations surrounding work in specific industrial settings.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 280 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 17.53mm | 572g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1845456459
  • 9781845456450

Table of contents

List of Tables

Chapter I: Introduction: French Labor History and Political Identity

The Cultural Turn, Postmodernism, and the Linguistic Turn
A gendered labor history
Politics and Labor History
Social and Political Identity
Political Identity Formation
Industrial Social Relations
Political Opportunity Structure
Design of Study

Chapter II: Industrial Social Relations in France's Second Industrial Revolution

Protoindustrialization and Class Structure
Industrial Change and Labor
Labor Markets
Collective Resistance

Chapter III: The French Labor Movement and Worker Political Identity

Trade Unions
Political Parties
World War I
Founding of the French Communist Party

Chapter IV: Political Opportunity

Structure from 1875 to 1921
The Republic in Lyon
The Radicals
The Alliance in Lyon
World War I

Chapter V: Silk Workers in Lyon, 1900-1921: Structure of the Silk Industry

World War I and Industrial Change
Industrial Change and Skill
Rise of Capitalist Labor Market
Industrial Change and Worker Collective Action
The 1903 Strike
Textile Workers and Politics

Chapter VI: Metalworkers in Lyon, 1900-1921

Structure of the Industry
Gender and Metalworking
War and Industrial Development
Industrial Change and Skill
Industrial Change, Metal Worker Resistance, and Solidarity
Metal Workers and Politics

Chapter VII: Political Opportunity

Structure 1921-1935
Two Currents
The Communist Party in Lyon
The SFIO in Lyon
The CGTU and the CGTSR
The CGT Programs in Action: Lyon 1919-1935
May Day Demonstrations

Chapter VIII: Silk Workers 1921-1935

Structure of the Silk Industry
Industrial Change and Deskilling
Rise of Capitalist Labor Market
Industrial Change and Worker Protest
Industrial Change and Worker Solidarity
Silk Workers and Politics

Chapter IX: Metal Workers in Lyon, 1921-1935

Structure of Metallurgy Industry
Employers' Organizations
Industrial Change and Skill Worker Resistance
Industrial Change and Metal Worker Militancy and Solidarity
Metal Workers and Labor Strategy

Chapter X: The French Popular Front and Political Identity

Origin of the Popular Front
The PCF and the Nation
Alliances and Elections
The 1936 Elections
The Imagery of Class and Nation
Industrial Conflict
Gender Inequality and Collective Bargaining


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Review quote

Nominated for the 2012 Distinguished Scholarly Book Award of the ASA Section on Labor and Labor Movements

"An exhaustive study [that]...discusses many of the labor issues that would continue to define these relations in the second half of the twentieth century and invites us to reflect on the power of workers whose words and deeds still inform politics in France today." * French Review

"All in all, this is a brilliant work that combines a depth of sophisticated, nuanced analysis with a clear, crisp writing style. New insights are unearthed from its detailed study of Lyon labour that will increase our understanding of the French working class during the first four decades of the twentieth century. Whether one ultimately agrees with the author's contentions, one must be impressed by the brilliance of his arguments and the firmness of his evidence." * European History Quarterly

"Mann does a masterful job analyzing the social basis of working class political identity in Lyon - and beyond - between 1900 and 1935." * Against the Current

"The approach is a carefully constructed synthesis: on the one hand, it is gendered, open to the insights of poststructuralism and the cultural turn, and rejects base and superstructure; on the other, it embraces the importance of structural patterns of development... Its great methodological virtue is its marriage of the concepts of social movement theory, in particular the political opportunity structure, and the serious archival research that one would expect from labor history." * American Historical Review

"With this book Keith Mann carries forward a vital tradition of North American labor history inspired by the work of Charles and Louise Tilly. Constructed around the dialectics of skill, technological change, and the organization of the labor process in Lyon's two key industries, while grounded in the distinctiveness of a particular spatial community shaped dynamically through time, it casts the politics of the Popular Front era in a strikingly original light." * Geoff Eley, University of Michigan

"This is an important book of exceptionally-high academic quality. With great skill, Mann documents and analyzes the influence of technology and work organization on the character of labor militancy. This book notably advances our understanding of these issues." * Michael Hanagan, Vassar College

"Keith Mann has written an important book that should be read not only by historians and social scientists but by all interested in movements for social change." * Gerald Friedman, University of Massachusetts Amherst
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About Keith Mann

Keith Mann is Associate Professor of Sociology at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He received his PhD in sociology and historical studies from the New School for Social Research and specializes in 19th- and 20th-century French social and labor history. His work has appeared in the International Review of Social History, International Labor and Working Class History, Labor History, and Le movement social.
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