Review of Lenard R. Berlanstein, Big Business and Industrial Conflict in Nineteenth-Century France: A Social History of the Parisian Gas Company
Contemporary Sociology, Volume 22, Issue 6 (November 1993), 861-862
3 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2014
Date Written: 1993
How can one best grasp the social transformations of the nineteenth century? Social historians have tried training their sights on an exemplary city, a particular social group, an illustrative historical incident, or a single life. Lenard Berlanstein's novel approach is to focus on the microcosm of the Parisian Gas Company during the second half of the century. In examining this publicly chartered private monopoly from the perspectives of four social groups - customers, managers, clerks, and manual workers - Berlanstein produces a rich portrait of the changes in French social relations and mentalite' between 1855 and 1905 against the backdrop of wider political and social history. By treating each group in turn, Berlandstein explores issues that concerned one or two groups in particular. Providing four very different perspectives on key issues of concern to all gives the book remarkable scope and unusual depth. The result is a rewarding monograph that links the local to the general as well as engaging a score of ongoing theoretical debates.
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