Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Socialism in Provence, 1871-1914

Socialism in Provence, 1871-1914

Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 384
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Socialism in Provence, 1871-1914
    Book Description:

    Departing from the usual emphasis on an urban and industrial context for the rise of socialism, Socialism in Provence 1871-1914 offers instead a reinterpretation of the early years of Marxist socialism in France among the peasantry. By focusing on a limited period and a particular region, Judt provides an account both of the character of political behavior in the countryside and of the history of left-wing politics in France.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-4391-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. Maps and tables
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xiii-xiv)

    • 1 The regional setting
      (pp. 1-22)

      The department of the Var was created in 1790 from the eastern part of old Provence. Until the creation of the department of the Alpes-Maritimes around the newly acquired Comté de Nice in 1861 the Var included all of eastern Provence up to the Italian frontier, including the present arrondissement of Grasse. From 1861, however, its frontiers have remained unaltered, and it is with the area within the revised boundary that this book is concerned.

      The Var, then, is framed by the Mediterranean Sea to the south and by the departments of the Alpes-Maritimes to the east, the Alpes de...

    • 2 Social and economic change 1871–1914
      (pp. 23-52)

      Between the collapse of the Second Empire and the outbreak of war in 1914 Provence saw immense changes in the way of life of its inhabitants. In that these changes were largely brought about by the economic depression of this period on the one hand, and by the social and political achievements of the Third Republic on the other, the region was of course sharing in a development common to all of France. But the way in which the region was affected by these events, and the manner in which the local population responded to them, were substantially conditioned by...

    • 3 Political developments 1871–1914
      (pp. 53-99)

      Most people are not particularly interested in politics most of the time. They are certainly not as concerned with political life as the preoccupations of historians might lead us to suppose. This truism has the force of paradox in France, where, despite the sharp and enduring political divisions, the concerns of the political parties arouse remarkably little interest except at moments of crisis. It is a commonplace that French men and women do not join political and social organisations to the degree that Germans or English do, and this has sometimes been held a contributory cause of the weakness of...

    • 4 The social geography of the left
      (pp. 100-137)

      The aim of this chapter is to discover the areas where support for Socialism was strong, and then to identify as closely as possible the characteristic features of such areas, and what distinguished them from regions of conservative support, or regions where Radicalism did well but never gave way to socialism. In order to do this, it is clearly necessary to decide what constitutes a region of ‘strong’ support for socialism, and this is not an altogether easy matter.

      The first point to make clear is that the criteria must of necessity be electoral. It would be very pleasing to...


    • 5 The economic crisis
      (pp. 138-153)

      The socialist movement in the Var, while generally following the same pattern of development as elsewhere in France, was by the early twentieth century much more successful than in other regions, measured by its support at elections. I have shown that this support was forthcoming most notably in the small towns and villages of the lowland areas of Provence, the coast excepted, and that within these communities it is plausible to suppose that the bulk of Socialist support came from those who worked on the land. Indeed, given the departure of artisans andrentiersin this period, the ‘peasant’ hypothesis...

    • 6 Provençal sociability
      (pp. 154-174)

      Between the economic organisation of people’s lives – the way they earn their living, the role they play in the chain of production relations – and the political choices they make there lies the important element of social and occupational organisation, the way in which they arrange their daily relationships with one another, both at work and during their leisure time. The importance of this as a determinant of ideological choice is easily understood with reference to the industrial working class, whose hierarchies within the factory, trade-union activities in the factory and outside, and meeting places in the evening (pub,...

    • 7 Education and an absent Church
      (pp. 175-199)

      A casual glance at the geography of religious practice in France cannot fail to reveal the frequent overlap between areas of apparent dechristianisation and departments with large Radical and Socialist electorates. Most of the classic interpretations of post-Revolutionary French history accordingly lay emphasis upon this evident relationship between religion and politics, and not a few of them have ascribed the one phenomenon to the existence of the other.

      While such a link appears likely not merely through the confluence of shaded areas on a map but also in logic (religious practice tending to political conservatism or moderation), the easy ascription...

    • 8 Feuds and personalities
      (pp. 200-216)

      All studies of political behaviour are bedevilled by a psephological variant of the Uncertainty Principle. Even where the investigator is in a position to ask of the voter the reasons for his or her choice, the response can at best only approximate to an accurate account of what motivated a particular choice in a given situation. The supposition that people make political choices on the basis of rational (and conscious) criteria remains far from proven. Nor should the investigator assume that the voter shares the specialist’s interest in politics and political behaviour. Few questionnaires have been devised which are capable...

    • 9 The ‘Var rouge’?
      (pp. 217-238)

      There is a certain image of Mediterranean politics, and of Mediterranean society in general, which informs much writing on the subject. The picture is that of a world in which everything is somehow larger than life’, where men say more than they think, where words and actions form part of a tradition of social behaviour which far outstrips their apparent content. Because southern France in particular has such a peculiarly lively and often radical political history, historians have sometimes felt constrained to account for its history less in terms of the specific content of the political acts of the local...


    • 10 From the Var to France
      (pp. 239-253)

      Regional studies hold an honoured and prominent place in the historiography of France since the late eighteenth century. In particular, and dating from André Siegfried’s work on the west of France, first published in 1913, there has been a special emphasis upon the exhaustive study of a delimited region over a given period, with the avowed aim of achieving a better understanding of traditions of social and political culture which have emerged in a given place. Siegfried’s own work is now largely discredited, its ecological and territorial determinism a barrier to more subtle accounts of social change, but the emphasis...

    • 11 Politics in the countryside
      (pp. 254-280)

      A leading theme in this book has been the close identification, in Provence, of the socialist movement with the peasantry. There are, of course, substantial qualifying considerations – the peasantry of the Var lived in an environment more urban than rural, they were predominantly property-owners (on however small a scale) rather than tenant farmers or sharecroppers, and their historical experiences certainly helped create an environment apparently favourable to leftwing political movements. Nevertheless, I have also argued that they did not depend upon the artisanat or the small-town bourgeoisie for their political mobilisation, and that substantial redefinitions of socialist are not...

    • 12 The roots of socialism
      (pp. 281-310)

      The history of socialism in France is normally conceived in terms of a study in failure. The theme lends itself to variations: political incompetence, intellectual inadequacy, moral turpitude, a failure of the will. The perspective adopted rather depends upon the location of the observer, of course, but it is fairly common to most students of the subject that they see the history of the left in France as uniquely unsuccessful in view of the advantages which are taken to have been conferred upon it by its inheritance of the mantle of revolutionary tradition, stretching from the Bastille to the Commune....

  9. Notes
    (pp. 311-336)
  10. A note on sources
    (pp. 337-342)
  11. Sources and bibliography
    (pp. 343-362)
  12. Index
    (pp. 363-370)