The Working Classes in Revolutionary France

Mens Occupations
Workers
     
Revolutionaries
Delacroix
  • 1830 / 1832
  • 1848

    Works Cited

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    Men hold incredibly varied occupations, including almost every occupation one can think of from factory worker to elite craftsmen. But as the nineteenth century progressed, the decline of cottage industries led to changes for many men. Some continued to find work as skilled artisans or in cottage industry. Others went to work in factories or became seasonal migrant workers.

    Depicts a construction site with a wide variety of workers. Also note the owner and the contracter in the foreground, speaking to each other and holding a paper. They are easily distiguishable by their clothes, such as a top hat and long coat.

    Bibliotheque Forney, Paris as found in Traugott

    .Migrant Workers

    This sketch depicts some migrant workers departing for another town. Many men worked for a period of time as migrant workers. Typically, these men were engaged in construction related trades and would go to the city at the height of construction season and then return to their families to help with agricultural labor. 

     Cottage Industry

    Cottage industry was popular particularly at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and though it declined in popularity due to industrialization trends, it continued to be a way of life for many.

    Cottage industry typically involved an entire family, with the man being in charge of the means of production. All the labor would take place in the home, with families often working from morning till night to get by. The wife and children would also work at whatever the family was employed at.

    A typical cottage industry might be a weaver who worked at home and then sold his wares to a middle man who supplied them at a higher price to others. The family would be paid by the piece, which was taken for granted then, but is illegal in this country today

     

     Skilled Artisans

    Opportunities as skilled artisans as declined as the century progressed due to industrialization trends, but certainly remained central through the entire century. At the beginning of the century, skilled artisans were often difficult to distinguish from the petty bourgeousie, although as industrialization progressed, it became clearer.

    Most skilled artisans had a fairly long period of apprenticeship, ranging from years to months between occupations and decades. This long period of unpaid apprenticeship put positions as skilled artisans out of the reach of many poorer working class families.

    At the beginning of the century, after an apprenticeship, a young man hoping to become a skilled artisan would complete what was known as a Tour of France, where he would go from city to city honing his skills. he would become a member of a compangonnes which was a trade based organization that served as a surrogate family for a young man in a particular trade.

     

    This sketch depicts a mason and his assistant.

    L'Illustration, 9 October 1847, p92 as found in Traugott