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Work Of France

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Overview

This clearly written and deeply informed book explores the nature and meaning of work in early modern France. Distinguished historian James R. Farr considers the relationship between material life—specifically the work activities of both men and women—and the culture in which these activities were embedded. This culture, he argues, helped shape the nature of work, invested it with meaning, and fashioned the identities of people across the social spectrum.

Farr vividly traces the daily lives of peasants, common laborers, domestic servants, prostitutes, street vendors, craftsmen and -women, merchants, men of the law, medical practitioners, and government officials. Work was recognized and valued as a means to earn a living, but it held a greater significance as a cultural marker of honor, identity, and status. Constants and continuities in work activities and their cultural aspects shared space with changes that were so profound and sweeping that France would be forever transformed. The author focuses on three salient, interconnected, and at times conflicting developments: the extension and integration of the market economy, the growth of the state's functions and governing apparatus, and the intensification of social hierarchy.

Presenting a unified and compelling argument about the role of labor in society, Farr addresses a complex set of questions and succeeds masterfully at answering them. With its stylish writing and clear themes, this book will find a broad audience among students and scholars of early modern Europe, French history, economics, gender studies, anthropology, and labor studies.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of Modern History
An exceptionally rich area of early modern European history, the history of work in France, has received its due in a fine synthesis by James Farr, himself a master in the field. . . . Farr provides a thorough and thoughtful survey of the literature, highlighting important recent work and skillfully integrating the specialized findings of French labor history with the broader concerns of early modern history.
Sixteenth-Century Journal
This exceptional book fully deserves the wide audience of scholars and students to which it is addressed….For scholars and teachers, Work of France offers a powerful interpretive model; for their students, a lively and handsomely written introduction to the society and culture of premodern Europe.
Julie Hardwick
A broad-ranging, powerfully argued, and innovative account of the world of work and its relationship to the key transformations of the early modern centuries. It succeeds on many levels—as a lively and accessible introduction to the early modern world for undergraduates and as a provocative interpretative framework for scholars.
Sixteenth Century Journal
This exceptional book fully deserves the wide audience of scholars and students to which it is addressed. . . . For scholars and teachers, Work of France offers a powerful interpretive model; for their students, a lively and handsomely written introduction to the society and culture of premodern Europe.
Journal Of Modern History
An exceptionally rich area of early modern European history, the history of work in France, has received its due in a fine synthesis by James Farr, himself a master in the field. . . . Farr provides a thorough and thoughtful survey of the literature, highlighting important recent work and skillfully integrating the specialized findings of French labor history with the broader concerns of early modern history.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

James R. Farr is professor of history at Purdue University.
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Table of Contents

Introduction
Chapter 1: Peasants
Chapter 2: The Menu Peuple (The "Lesser Folk")
Chapter 3: Artisans
Chapter 4: Merchants, Large and Small
Chapter 5: The Professions: Medical Practitioners, Men of the Law, and Government Officials
Conclusion
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