Sign up for our Email Newsletter Berghahn Books Logo

berghahn New York · Oxford

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
  • Instagram
Forging Political Identity: Silk and Metal Workers in Lyon, France 1900-1939

View Table of Contents

Volume 16

International Studies in Social History

See Related
History Journals

Email Newsletters

Sign up for our email newsletters to get customized updates on new Berghahn publications.

Click here to select your preferences

Forging Political Identity

Silk and Metal Workers in Lyon, France 1900-1939

Keith Mann

280 pages, 8 illus., 4 tables bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-645-0 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (April 2010)

eISBN 978-1-84545-825-6 eBook

Hb   Buy the eBook from these vendors Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


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 authors 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


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.

Keith Mann is Associate Professor of Sociology at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He 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 mouvement social.

Subject: History (General) History: 20th Century to Present Sociology Political and Economic Anthropology
Area: France


List of Tables

Chapter I: Introduction: French Labor History and Political Identity

  • The Cultural Turn, Postmodernism, and the Linguistic Turn
  • A gendered labor history
  • Materialism
  • 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

  • Protoindutrialization
  • Protoindustrialization and Class Structure
  • Industrial Change and Labor
  • Labor Markets
  • Skill
  • Collective Resistance
  • Conclusion

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
  • Conclusion

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

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

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
  • Apprenticeship
  • Metal Workers and Politics
  • Conclusion

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
  • Conclusion

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
  • Conclusion

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
  • Conclusion

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
  • Conclusion



Back to Top