And although change was slower than in other
areas of Europe, foriegn competition did force the creation of
some factories andd thus the demise of the skilled artisans who
were previously employed in those trades. This change occured
first and most dramatically in the textile industry, particularly
spinning cotton and weaving certain types of wool.
Increasing industrialization particulary hurt
the family economy, or the cottage industries, as traders found
they could increase their profits by buying from factories. Since
it drove prices down, it also made it more and more difficult
for cottage industries to find enough work and make enough money
to survive. The breakdown of the family economy helped to create
major cultural changes for the French working class as the family
began to have less control over all aspects of one's life, such
as choice of employment and marriage partner.
Many in rural areas began to supplement their
income by becoming seasonal migrant workers in the construction
industries. During the height of the construction season they
would travel around the country building railways and buildings,
and digging canals.
The shift to industrialization created uncertain
economic prospects for skilled artisans during the nineteenth
century. Factories also put pressure on the prices of goods they
produced, driving down wages. Because of the high proportion
of income consumed by food, a decrease
in wages could often push workers to the brink of starvation.
It also disturbed the functioning of shops. Although there was
always a clear deliniation between the owner of a shop and his
workers, they had managed to maintain fairly egalitarian relations.
Now, as the means of production became more expensive to own
and the skill required to do a particular job became less, the
relationship became more defined and antagonistic.
However, small industry in France was more
secure than in other places because the special value of French
luxury goods on the world market ensured a continuation of some
highly skilled artisanal laborers.
Information on this page comes from Maynes,