Socialism and Social Protest

Required reading:

John Plotz, “Crowd Power: Chartism, Carlyle and The Victorian Public Sphere,” Representations, 70 (2000)

Pamela Pilbeam, “Dream Worlds? Religion and the Early Socialists in France,” The Historical Journal, 43:2 (June 2000)

Sarah Maza, The Myth of the French Bourgeoisie, Chapter 6.

William H. Sewell, “Corporations Republicaines: The Revolutionary Idiom of Parisian Workers in 1848,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 21:2 (April 1979)


Friedrich Engels, “Industrial Manchester” (1844)

“Chartism: The People’s Petition” (1838)

Charles Fourier, “Theory of Social Organization” (1820)

Louis Blanc, “The Organization of Labor” (1840)

William Morris, “Why I Am A Socialist” (1884)

Seminar Topics

Equality was a key aspect of Europe’s revolutionary tradition in the nineteenth century. In its most radical incarnation, equality translated into the political philosophy of socialism. Seminar discussion will examine how different groups interpreted the idea of social equality through an examination of both primary and secondary source materials. In doing so, we will assess to what extent socialism can be considered a uniform, comprehensive ideology and the impact that worker movements, protests and intellectuals had on politics during the period.

Questions to consider:

  1. What factors promoted the rise of socialism?
  2. How did socialists attempt to reform or change the capitalist system? What specific strategies did they propose?
  3. Can we speak of a definitive socialist program and movement in the nineteenth century?
  4. What does Sewell mean by the “revolutionary idiom” used by workers?
  5. How does Sarah Maza’s examination of working class protest in France seek to challenge Marxist interpretations?
  6. How does Plotz consider worker mobilization and protest in Britain? What importance and significance did it have the working class movements in the country?

Further Reading:

Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Capital: 1848-1875. New York: Vintage, 1996.

Edward Berenson, Populist Religion and Left-Wing Politics in France, 1830-1852. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984.

Pamela Pilbeam, French Socialists Before Marx: Workers, Women and the Social Question in France. Toronto: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2000.

Ira Katznelson and Aristide R. Zolberg, Working-Class Formation: Nineteenth-Century Patterns in Western Europe and the United States. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986.

Boyd Hilton, A Mad, Bad and Dangerous People? England, 1783-1846. Oxford: Clarendon, 2008. Especially chapters 7-9.

D.G. Wright, Popular Radicalism: The Working-Class Experience, 1780-1880. London: Longman, 1988.

Edward Royale, Revolutionary Britannia? Reflections of the Threat of Revolution in Britain, 1789-1848. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000.

Albert S. Lindemann, A History of European Socialism. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984.

Bernard Moss, The Origins of the French Labor Movement, 1830-1914: The Socialism of Skilled Labor. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976.

Stefan Berger, Social Democracy and the Working Class in Nineteenth and Twentieth-Century Germany. London: Routledge, 1999.

E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class. New York: Vintage, 1966.

Jill Harsin, Barricades: The War of the Streets in Revolutionary Paris, 1830-1848. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.