State Capitalism and Working-Class Radicalism in the French Aircraft Industry

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9780520071254: State Capitalism and Working-Class Radicalism in the French Aircraft Industry

In the 1950s and 1960s France experienced an economic miracle. As the state's role expanded with efforts to create a more modern economy, however, labor relations remained more volatile and workers more radical than elsewhere in western Europe. Herrick Chapman argues in this important new book that state capitalism and working-class radicalism went hand-in-hand and that both have antecedents in the tumultuous events of the 1930s and 1940s.

The author focuses on a key industry—aviation—which held center stage in France from the Great Depression to the Cold War. While manufacturers and state officials struggled to modernize, the aviation industry became a bastion of the Communist Party and an arena of combat where workers, employers, and officials promoted competing visions of industrial reform. This gave rise to a new environment where state intervention and working-class radicalism became mutually reinforcing, and by the postwar era a peculiarly contentious form of industrial politics had become firmly entrenched.

Using local and national archives, the author analyzes not only how an industry transformed but also how people reacted to the Popular Front, the defeat of 1940, the Nazi Occupation, and the onset of the Cold War. He also sheds light on such central themes in modern French history as the style of entrepreneurship, the sources of state interventionism, the response of workers to technological change and the nature of the Communist movement.

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From the Inside Flap:

"Using the example of the aircraft industry, which takes him like an arrow to the heart of many of the key conflicts in French life between 1936 and 1948, Herrick Chapman has written a penetrating and exceptionally well documented account of the way that France developed her present style of industrial relations, in which the state plays such a central role. No book I know so successfully integrates the history of aviation . . . with the political and social history of France. Both thorough and thoughtful, it is an impressive achievement."—Robert Wohl, University of California, Los Angeles

"An unusual, innovative book based on impressive research that throws new light in a major way on twentieth-century French politics and society . . . one of the most interesting and original monographs in modern French history in a long time."—Robert O. Paxton, Columbia University

"This is a breakthrough of considerable importance. [Chapman] will become the leading North American, perhaps even English-speaking, historian of contemporary France."—George Ross, Brandeis University

About the Author:

Herrick Chapman is Assistant Professor of History at Carnegie Mellon University.

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