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Wednesday 18 March 2020 11.00 - 13.00
Q-2 LAB02 Advances in the Knowledge of European Craftsmanship at the Old Regime
Lipsius, 227
Network: Labour Chair: Maarten Prak
Organizer: José A. Nieto Sánchez Discussant: Maarten Prak
Bert De Munck : How to Transcend Teleological Thinking in the Guild Debate?
The revival of the guilds started as a critique of anachronistic and teleological views, in which guilds were seen as either obstacles for growth and modernity or beacons of social harmony and order. Research since the 1980s has shown empirically that guilds were extremely diverse and adapted flexibly to very ... (Show more)
The revival of the guilds started as a critique of anachronistic and teleological views, in which guilds were seen as either obstacles for growth and modernity or beacons of social harmony and order. Research since the 1980s has shown empirically that guilds were extremely diverse and adapted flexibly to very different circumstances - as a result of which it has actually become impossible to apply one specific conceptual framework. This has not put an end to anachronistic and teleological thinking however. While economic history has started to dominate the debates on guilds the last few decades, my contribution proceeds from the observation that in social and economic history in particular anachronistic and teleological views are still flourishing. The replacement of classical Marxist or Smithian frames of reference by neo-institutional economic approaches has produced new ideas about the role and rationale of the guilds’ regulations, but most historical accounts are still very reductive, and present-day (ideological) positions still very much predict the interpretations. To an extent, this might be inevitable (and perhaps even unproblematic) but it appears time to transcend the present state of the art and introduce new conceptual approaches which 1) allow to take into account and appreciate the guilds’ diversity and multi-dimensionality and 2) enable to describe and examine long terms transformations. Two new approaches will be introduced in particular: the Foucauldian concept of governmentality and Actor-Network Theory. (Show less)

José A. Nieto Sánchez : Artisan Apprenticeship in Several Spanish Cities at the End of the Early Modern Age
This communication intends, using the Spanish case, to enter into the debate raised between Epstein and Ogilvie about the role of artisan apprenticeship. Identifying apprenticeship and guilds, Larry Epstein understood the former as a pillar of the formation of thousands of craftsmen in modern-day Europe, while neo-Smithian historians, with Ogilvie ... (Show more)
This communication intends, using the Spanish case, to enter into the debate raised between Epstein and Ogilvie about the role of artisan apprenticeship. Identifying apprenticeship and guilds, Larry Epstein understood the former as a pillar of the formation of thousands of craftsmen in modern-day Europe, while neo-Smithian historians, with Ogilvie at the head, argue that the main intention of the guilds was to restrict access to the labor market, using apprenticeship as an exclusive instrument that filtered labor. There is little doubt that throughout the Modern Age throughout Europe many people relied on apprenticeship as a way to acquire skills that enable them to be included in an artisan trade. It is not at all clear, however, that this route was only carried out by the guilds, since many non-guilds trades also had apprentices. The filter of entry to the artisan labor market led by the apprenticeship would not be the work of the guilds alone, which enriches the panorama of the different possibilities of insertion in the productive structure represented by the artisans of the moment.

In this proposal will analyze several thousands of apprenticeship scriptures signed in cities as different as Madrid, Segovia, Zamora, Toro, Barcelona ... in order to ratify or not some of the proposals defended by Epstein, who argued that "the objective The main guild of craftsmen was to provide adequate training through formal learning". This communication also seeks to gauge the weight of other problems raised by the Epstein-Ogilvie debate such as the risk of opportunism, the corporate control of artisan reproduction, the reduction of information asymmetries, the inbreeding forms of skill transmission or the internal flow or external labor that ended up being incorporated into urban jobs. The ultimate goal is to see how artisan apprenticeship reacted in Spain to the measures that enlightened governments deployed in terms of labor markets at the end of the Old Regime. (Show less)

Ruben Schalk, Piet Groot : Education or Exploitation Hubs? Migration and Career Trajectories of Journeymen in Dutch Craft Guilds, 1680-1780
Migration was at the core of pre-industrial human capital formation and innovation. Moving around enabled artisans to search for better opportunities and hone their skills, while at the same time contributing to the circulation of knowledge. The divergence between Western Europe and other regions can perhaps be partially ascribed to ... (Show more)
Migration was at the core of pre-industrial human capital formation and innovation. Moving around enabled artisans to search for better opportunities and hone their skills, while at the same time contributing to the circulation of knowledge. The divergence between Western Europe and other regions can perhaps be partially ascribed to relative high migration rates, facilitating an effective exchange of knowledge and skills across artisans (de la Croix et al. 2018, Mokyr 2008, Epstein 2004). Nevertheless, there is still little empirical evidence supporting these claims. Furthermore, there is just as much literature suggesting that labour markets were closed (De Vries 1994), guilds favoured insiders (Ogilvie 2004), and that journeymenship was increasingly characterized by proletarianization and exploitation during the pre-industrial period (Lis & Soly 2008, 1994).

Our paper will bring the debate further by examining migration patterns of skilled workers and their access to guilds in the pre-industrial Netherlands. We collected data on more than 2,000 journeymen registering with several guilds in three Holland cities between c. 1680-1780. For most journeymen we know their place of origin, distances travelled, and their career in the receiving guild. To assess whether our sample reflects skilled migration patterns in general, we use data collected from settlement registers of Haarlem (1711-1780, n= 1,000). Our findings demonstrate that 1) the bulk of all journeymen in cities were migrants, yet most only travelled as far as needed to find an economic opportunity; 2) migrant journeymen experienced volatile employment and lower chances of becoming masters, yet this is likely not explained by rent-seeking guilds; 3) high-skill occupations attracted migrants from farther away, suggesting that some urban centres served as ‘education hubs’. Consequently, premodern migration appears to have benefited human capital formation and the circulation of knowledge. (Show less)

Patrick Wallis : Guild Society: Social Capital, Urban Governance and the Nature of Guilds
In several strands of recent scholarship, the existence, power and agency of early modern guilds has been linked to the social capital that the members of guilds shared, exploited and reproduced together. Arguably, guilds emerged because of social capital, used it to coordinate strategies to exclude others, and collectively benefited ... (Show more)
In several strands of recent scholarship, the existence, power and agency of early modern guilds has been linked to the social capital that the members of guilds shared, exploited and reproduced together. Arguably, guilds emerged because of social capital, used it to coordinate strategies to exclude others, and collectively benefited from the mutual trust it generated. Social capital was, in short, central to the impact of guilds on European development. This paper examines the analytical and empirical challenges raised by this account through the lens of recent archival work on English guilds. It focuses on three questions. First, and most generally, does social capital offer a useful framework through which we can interpret guilds? Second, how do we measure and evaluate the nature of the social interactions that occurred within guilds? And third, what was the relative importance of the social relationships fostered within guilds, compared to those that emerged out of the other social structures that existed in early modern cities? To address these, we explore several new methodologies by which the strength of social capital within guilds can be evaluated. (Show less)



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