Bureaucrats and Bourgeois Society

Office Politics and Individual Credit in France 1789-1848


How did the French Revolution change ordinary lives? Bureaucrats and Bourgeois Society asks this question in relation to office clerks working in Parisian administrations. Under new masters, these clerks faced radical changes to work practices as reforming politicians looked to implement new 'administrative science'. Many also faced the loss of family inheritances, as positions no longer passed down from father to son. Clerks were now expected to make their career as individuals. In practice, this meant increased job insecurity.  Administrators lived under the threat of regular cuts in pay and of personnel. In this situation, some believed that the way to get ahead was by playing office politics. In the early nineteenth century, however, clerks mitigated their situation by modifying occupational practices. Inside the offices, they settled new modes of judging individual merit. Outside, they accumulated other forms of individual credit, in the process helping to define nineteenth-century bourgeois social capital, ideals of emulation, honor, and masculinity.  Job insecurity, however, continued to set 'bureaucrats' apart from the bourgeoisie and their social identity came under question during the July Monarchy and 1848 Revolution.
  • Palgrave Macmillan; October 2012
  • ISBN 9781137264923
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF format
  • Title: Bureaucrats and Bourgeois Society
  • Author: Ralph Kingston
  • Imprint: Palgrave Macmillan

About The Author

RALPH KINGSTON is an assistant professor of History at Auburn University, USA. He previously held positions at Trinity College Dublin, and as a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at University College London. His article, The Bricks and Mortar of Revolutionary Administration, published in French History, was awarded the SEASECS Percy V. Adams prize.