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“Machinisme”1, Marxism, humanism : Georges Friedmann before and after WW II - F. Vatin

François Vatin
Institutions et dynamiques historiques de l’économie (IDHE), CNRS–université Paris-X, maison Max-Weber, 200, avenue de la République, 92000 Nanterre, France

Available online 28 February 2007 on ScienceDirect

Georges Friedmann (1902–1977) is known for the humanist sociology of work he founded after World War II. Before the war he was a Marxist intellectual, close to the French Communist Party and an admirer of the young Soviet Union. The effect of this political and ideological itinerary on his sociology of work has never been analyzed systematically. Here the question is handled by following the presence of a central concept in his work, “machinisme” [see note1]. This concept does not come from Marx’s thinking but from that of the Romantic historian Jules Michelet, whose writings Friedmann was fully familiar with. A key term in Friedmann’s early writings, it was abandoned after World War II in favor of the “natural milieu/technical milieu” conceptual pair. This terminological change went together with a radical change in Friedmann’s point of view.

Keywords : Georges Friedmann ; Humanism ; Machinisme ; Marx ; Marxism ; Michelet ; Sociology of work ; France

Article Outline

  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Machinisme : Karl Marx and Jules Michelet
  • 3. Georges Friedmann, from machinisme to humanism
  • 4. Conclusion
  • References

Sociologie du Travail
Volume 49, Supplement 1, March 2007, Pages e16–e33
Translation by Amy Jacobs