Manufacturing Labor Discipline

Apprenticeship, Asymmetrical Knowledge, and Large-Scale Production in Britain and France, 1750–1820

in Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques
Leonard N. Rosenband Professor Emeritus of History, Utah State University, USA

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Josiah Wedgwood, the Montgolfier family, and Samuel Bentham were leading producers during the early industrial era. A pottery manufacturer, a family of papermakers, and the Inspector-General of Britain's Naval Works, they all occupied the highest perch in their fields. This article considers the efforts by these eminent figures to control the exercise and reproduction of skill in their shops. It examines their attempts to build internal labor markets and blend carefully trained, home-grown hands with novel systems of work discipline and fresh technologies. In doing so, this article assesses the success and limits of the entrepreneurial trio's designs in the coming of mechanized production.

Contributor Notes

Leonard N. Rosenband is Professor Emeritus of History at Utah State University. He is the author of Papermaking in Eighteenth-Century France: Management, Labor, and Revolution at the Montgolfier Mill, 1761–1805 (2000), which appeared in French translation in 2005. He has coedited two books and published numerous articles, including “Comparing Combination Acts: French and English Papermaking in the Age of Revolution,” Social History (2004), and “The Industrious Revolution: A Concept Too Many?” International Labor and Working Class History (2016). He is currently completing a book entitled Paper Trails: The Cosmopolitan Origins of the Machine Age, 1650–1820. In 2014, he was awarded the Nancy Lyman Roelker Mentorship Prize by the American Historical Association for his guidance of undergraduates at Utah State University for thirty-two years. Email:

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