The Rise of Market Culture: The Textile Trade and French Society, 1750-1900

William M. Reddy

Combining the perspectives of anthropology and social history, Professor Reddy traces the transition from precapitalist to capitalist culture in the French textile industry from 1750 to 1900. He shows how and why a new conception of the social order based on the idea of the market began to emerge, and examines the attendant political and social conflict. Focusing on the northern regional centres in France which led the movement toward mechanisation, the author - employs the methods of cultural anthropology to find that even by 1900 French textile labourers had failed to develop a social identity commensurate with the idea of wage labour. This discovery leads him to a critique of the market idea that suggests radical and prevalent interpretations of the social history of industrialisation as well as of the concept of 'class consciousness'.