The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Proudhon, Pierre Joseph (1809–1865)

  • H. Bartoli
Reference work entry


Proudhon was born in Besançon, France, into a very humble family. Despite a scholarship, poverty forced him to interrupt his exceptionally brilliant studies. He became, in turn, a printer, print shop foreman, scholarship student at the Besançon Academy, owner of a small print shop, and managing clerk in a river transport company in Lyons. He then became a writer and journalist, following this profession through incessant material difficulties, political trials, election to parliament, prison and exile. On his death he left a vast body of work, in which he tackled at the same time problems of philosophy, ethics, sociology and economics. He can equally well be seen as one of the founders of sociology, the father of anarchism, one of the inspirational forces behind cooperativism and mutualism, one of the sources of syndicalist thinking, ‘the boldest thinker of French socialism’ (Marx), a pioneer of federalism and regionalism, or one of the apostles of mass education.

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Bartoli
    • 1
  1. 1.