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The book “The work of France: Labor and culture in early modern times 1350-1800” appears in a cycle of crucial issues in international and world history. The critical issues embedded in this book is the relationship amid material life particularly work activities of both women and men and the culture within which these activities are engaged, a culture that assisted shape these activities , provided them with significance, and shaped the identities of the individuals involved in them. The work world was particularly influenced by three prominent, interconnected and sometimes conflicted developments: the integration and extension of market economy, the escalation of social hierarchy and the expansion of the governing apparatus of the states.
Function of work in early modern France.
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According to Farr (2008 p.3), work in early modern France functioned as a means of social classification and social control. This is statement is true because people were classified according to their jobs. Farr traces the everyday lives of common laborers, peasants, domestic servants, and street vendors, men of law, women merchants, government officials and medical practitioners. Work was valued and recognized as a means of earning a livelihood, but it held a higher importance as a cultural indicator of identity, status and honor. Continuities and constants in work activities together with their cultural features shared space with transformations that were very intense and extensive that France would be perpetually transformed (Farr, 2000).
According to Farr (2008 p.4), wealth was closely connected to social class, because class was made evident by comportment and appearance. Family was the primary marker of place, but status was established and made evident by a puzzling collection of other markets. However, the most significant marker of rank was an individual’s occupation. What an individual did in his or her work life was vital t establishing one’s status in the society. Paradoxically, the goal of wealth amid the rich was to abandon work, since work was a symbol of degraded rank.
The social world of peasants was exceptionally intricate, with the work of peasants, the changes that occurred within their work and the significances of their work being far from simple. A firm finely graded and complex scheme of hierarchies held influences within the village and small farmers, large farmers, sharecroppers, tenant farmers, migrant workers and day laborers had their place and were aware of it. In this stratified community, hierarchy along with its privileges was largely internalized to the extent of becoming a portion of tacitly recognized tradition (Farr, 2000).
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According to Farr (2008 p.6), in daily social usage a man referred to himself as a honorable man if he had scaled the number one rung of social development, had taken the initial step up from peasantry. Similar to peasants, these males still did work, but dissimilarity was based upon corporate membership. Inside this status, by master artisans and merchants belonging to guilds, are additional classifications of honorability. Wholesale merchants were graded above retailers, whilst amongst the jewelers, artisan goldsmiths, sculptors and painter settled at the top as a result of working with gorgeous materials and involving intellect in production. Butchers, shoemakers and tanners were ranked at the bottom because of working with highly bodily and therefore degraded materials such as carcass and blood.
An honorable man was up the social rank but in spite of the title, wasn’t a nobleman himself who was referred to as a gentleman. In this case, the basic determinant of self respect was the lack of manual work, and therefore physicians and lawyers usually occupied this rank. From the honorable man perspective, people who work using their hands are devalued, and are usually termed as vile, gross, poor or avaricious. Manual work is belittled, since it&’s is tiring, bodily and tiring (Farr, 2008 p.6).
Nobility was also a juridical status, and an individual entered it regularly through a judicial inquiry. Farr (2008 p.6-7) notes that prior to the 17th century this involved getting statements from witnesses who would then bear witness that the applicants lived virtuously. This implied that the applicant together with his grandparents and parents earned income without doing work but which was only applicable with a particular level of assets, which needed in turn particular fiscal attachments that would contribute such capital. During the 17th century the proof and definition of dignity became greatly stringent needing genealogical more and increased searching studies, increasing the societal standard of hierarchy
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Farr (2008 p.7) argues that hierarchy both a social and a gendered face. In early contemporary period this is patriarchy and it placed an ineradicable stamp on labor and work. Society was tentatively structured on microcosm of family and an ordered community rested upon an ordered family. Females were seen s being inferior to males, and their work was regarded by men as inferior to the work of men. The significance of work was interceded through ideology. The female circle in early contemporary France was within the house, and females were highly inclined to reproduction rather the production. The subsequent presumption was that the work of women was confined within the family economy, and was unpaid. Therefore, from the men dominated circle of market economy, men are paid for their services, goods or labor (Farr, 2008 p.7).
Work in the early modern France was used in social classification and social control. Even though work was valued and indentified as a way of earning a living, it had a greater significance as a cultural indicator of identity, honor and status. People were ranked into different status within the society according to the jobs they performed.
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