Producing, Retailing, Consuming: France 1830–70

  • Roger Magraw
Part of the Warwick Studies in the European Humanities book series (WSEH)


Until recently economic historians were concerned to explain the ‘retardation’ of the French economy in the nineteenth century, its failure to emulate Britain’s ‘take-off’ or, later, to achieve the rapid growth rates attained by Wilhelmine Germany and the USA.1 However, recent revisionist writings have questioned this orthodoxy. Estimates of the pace of economic growth in Britain have been revised downwards and attention drawn to the survival of hand-technology in key sectors of Victorian industry.2 Per capita production in France may have risen as fast as in Britain.3 Above all, the notion of a single, ‘correct’ model of industrialisation has been challenged. Hence, France’s failure to urbanise or to develop heavy industry as rapidly as her competitors should not, it is argued, be interpreted per se as evidence of ‘backwardness’.4 The Lyonnais-Stéphanois region continued to employ a high percentage of its workforce in small workshops and in rural outwork, despite the expansion in the middle decades of the century of large-scale coal mines and heavy metallurgical and engineering plants. Yet it consistently produced quality goods which sold well in international as well as domestic markets. The silk fabrique adapted rapidly to changing circumstances.


Department Store Commercial Traveller French Literature French Economy Petty Bourgeoisie 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1993

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  • Roger Magraw

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