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The ‘Invention’ of the Empirical Method of Social Sciences and the Genesis of the Workers’ Movement as a Discursive Practice in France before 1848

Dates:
  • Thu 02 Mar 2017 17.00 - 19.00
  Add to Calendar 2017-03-02 17:00 2017-03-02 19:00 Europe/Paris The ‘Invention’ of the Empirical Method of Social Sciences and the Genesis of the Workers’ Movement as a Discursive Practice in France before 1848

HEC Colloquium

The paper explores some processes through which the ‘working class’ emerged both as a collective subjectivity and as a field of knowledge and public policies in France before 1848. The focus will be on the intersections and mutual interactions between, on the one hand, the ‘invention’ of the empirical method of modern social sciences, and, on the other, the emergence of the workers’ movement observed in its linguistic and discursive dimension.

The paper considers a series of events in a short fragment of French history starting with the 1832 cholera epidemic. The trauma associated with this outburst led to new investigations and conceptualizations of the so-called ‘social question’, and stimulated pioneering practices of social inquiry on urban misery under the aegis of a medical-hygienist perspective. ‘Pauperism’ thus appeared as the first object on which the nascent social sciences elaborated their own methodology and epistemology by progressively focussing on the condition of wage labour. The paper points out the social representations of the ‘working class’ produced by these practices of social enquiry, which established it as a field of knowledge and inspired the first French labour laws. The purpose is to investigate the interrelations between these social representations and those created by the labour movement, considered in its linguistic dimension as a set of discursive practices able to shape a collective identity of workers.

Through a combination of social, intellectual, and legal history, the lecture tries to explore both sides of a process of ‘subjectivation’: on the one hand, the construction of labour as an object of science and administration, and, on the other, the political and discursive production of a collective subjectivity of the French workers.

Sala del Camino, Villa Salviati DD/MM/YYYY
  Sala del Camino, Villa Salviati

HEC Colloquium

The paper explores some processes through which the ‘working class’ emerged both as a collective subjectivity and as a field of knowledge and public policies in France before 1848. The focus will be on the intersections and mutual interactions between, on the one hand, the ‘invention’ of the empirical method of modern social sciences, and, on the other, the emergence of the workers’ movement observed in its linguistic and discursive dimension.

The paper considers a series of events in a short fragment of French history starting with the 1832 cholera epidemic. The trauma associated with this outburst led to new investigations and conceptualizations of the so-called ‘social question’, and stimulated pioneering practices of social inquiry on urban misery under the aegis of a medical-hygienist perspective. ‘Pauperism’ thus appeared as the first object on which the nascent social sciences elaborated their own methodology and epistemology by progressively focussing on the condition of wage labour. The paper points out the social representations of the ‘working class’ produced by these practices of social enquiry, which established it as a field of knowledge and inspired the first French labour laws. The purpose is to investigate the interrelations between these social representations and those created by the labour movement, considered in its linguistic dimension as a set of discursive practices able to shape a collective identity of workers.

Through a combination of social, intellectual, and legal history, the lecture tries to explore both sides of a process of ‘subjectivation’: on the one hand, the construction of labour as an object of science and administration, and, on the other, the political and discursive production of a collective subjectivity of the French workers.


Location:
Sala del Camino, Villa Salviati

Affiliation:
Department of History and Civilization

Type:
Lecture

Organiser:
Prof. Luca Molà (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)
Corinna Ruth Unger

Speaker:
Federico Tomasello (University of Firenze)
 
 

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