The Political Economy of Shopkeeping in Milan, 1886-1922

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This is the first monograph dealing with any aspect of the experience of the Italian petite bourgeoisie. From the mid-1880s a shopkeeper movement developed in Milan, centred around a shopkeeper newspaper, a federation of shopkeeper trade associations and a shopkeeper bank. Initially the movement aligned itself with the Radicals in city politics, but in 1904 it was shopkeeper representatives who set in chain the sequence of events that led to the fall of the first Radical-Socialist administration within the city. The author explains these events with reference to the business of shopkeeping itself. He analyses the trades, techniques, tax structure and topography of the Milanese retail sector. The study traces the history of the contest between shops and cooperatives, and the changing nature of the shopkeeper's relationship with his employees, and with his clientele. Considerable emphasis is placed upon the politics of the shopkeeper movement. These are analysed in the context both of Italian history and of the debates over petit-bourgeois identity and autonomy which have become essential for our understanding of modern European history. In his final chapters the author confronts the crucial question of why it was the Milanese shopkeepers were to be found on the right in the years that led up to the Fascist takeover in Italy.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"With great clarity Morris delineates the composition and economic geography of the esercenti, or shopkeepers....[His] book is a wonderful example of the injunction, hammered home by a new generation of Italianists like John Davis, to think local." American Historical Review

"...elegantly constructed and persuasive." Louise A. Tilly, Business History Review

"In analyzing the experience of the petite bourgeoisie 'on its own terms,' Morris has significantly added to our understanding of the business of shopkeeping itself. He has also contributed to our understanding of the politics, ideology, and local circumstances that influenced the behavior of the Milanese shopkeepers in the years prior to the Fascist takeover in Italy." Traci Andrighetti and Claudio G. Segrè, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"...a comprehensive, three-dimensional view of shopkeepers that belies easy political categorization or simplistic class interpretation, and yet which still manages to discern patterns and generalizations of real historical important contribution to our knowledge of politics in modern Italy, not only in its main themes but also in its examination of a previously unknown sector of society and its various formal associations. He provides the kind of careful, creative study based on primary resources that modern Italian historiography critically needs." Steven C. Hughes, Journal of Modern History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521391191
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/25/1993
  • Series: Past and Present Publications Series
  • Pages: 332
  • Product dimensions: 5.43 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Table of Contents

List of figures
List of tables
Introduction: shopkeeping as a historical problem 1
1 The business of shopkeeping in Milan, 1859-1915 12
2 The context of shopkeeping: trades and techniques 36
3 The economic geography of shopkeeping: the role of the dazio consumo 64
4 The esercenti enter the political arena 89
5 Constructing the esercenti movement, 1886-1890 103
6 The esercenti and the depression, 1890-1897 121
7 Shopkeepers, cooperatives and the politics of privilege 140
8 Milan and the national small-business movement, 1886-1898 165
9 The allargamento debate, 1895-1897 176
10 The end-of-century crisis and the enlargement of the dazio belt 192
11 Shopkeeping in the new century 207
12 Labour relations and class politics 225
13 The esercenti and the centre-left administration, 1900-1905 238
14 Shopkeepers and Socialists 1905-1922 265
Conclusion: identity and autonomy 285
Bibliography 293
Index 304
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