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World of Possibilities

World of Possibilities
Flexibility and Mass Production in Western Industrialization


Part of Studies in Modern Capitalism

Carlo Poni, Alain Cottereau, Rudolf Boch, Beatrice Veyrassat, Jonathan Zeitlin, Alain Dewerpe, Philip Scranton, Peer Hull Kristensen, Charles Sabel, Vittorio Capecchi, Jean Saglio, Hakon With Andersen
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  • Date Published: May 2002
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521894432

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About the Authors
  • This book retells the history of Western industrialization, revealing possibilities unexplored in the nineteenth century, variants of which have come to transform present day economies. It shows that economic actors have historically been more aware of the great strategic choices they faced than standard theory credits them with being, and this surprising acuity allows them to imagine and put into practice solutions which current theories of industrial organization have scarcely anticipated. The book is therefore at one and the same time a contribution to a substantive revision of the history of mechanized production and a propaedeutic in a form of explanation that approximates the knowledge of the actor to the knowledge of the theorist. The volume groups essays presented by a multinational team of historians and social scientists drawing on intensive primary research on a wide range of firms, regions, sectors and national economies in Western Europe and the United States from the eighteenth century to the 1990s.

    • An international team addresses a subject of major importance in contemporary economic and social history
    • Outstanding breadth of exemplification over time and place
    • Includes the most recent historical research
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This excellent book … is a scholarly and rigorous academic text, drawing upon a wide range of multi-national research, impressive in its historical breadth and depth. It makes us think about how we think and write history … It is quite simply good history.' Labour History Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2002
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521894432
    • length: 524 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 154 x 32 mm
    • weight: 0.838kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. The Modernity of Tradition:
    1. Fashion as flexible production: the strategies of the Lyon silk merchants in the eighteenth century Carlo Poni
    2. The fate of fabriques collectives in the industrial world: the silk industries of Lyon and London, 1800–1850 Alain Cottereau
    3. The rise and decline of flexible production: the cutlery industry of Solingen since the eighteenth century Rudolf Boch
    4. Manufacturing flexibility in nineteenth-century Switzerland: social and institutional foundations of decline and revival in calico printing and watchmaking Beatrice Veyrassat
    Part II. The Battle of the Systems:
    5. Between flexibility and mass production: strategic ambiguity and selective adaptation in the British engineering industry, 1840–1914 Jonathan Zeitlin
    6. The lost paradigm: an Italian metalworking empire between competing models of production, 1900–1920 Alain Dewerpe
    7. 'Have a heart for the manufacturers!': production, distribution and the decline of American textile manufacturing Philip Scranton
    8. The small-holder economy in Denmark: the exception as variation Peer Hull Kristensen and Charles Sabel
    Part III. The Resurgence of Flexible Production:
    9. In search of flexibility: the Bologna metalworking industry, 1900–1992 Vittorio Capecchi
    10. Local industry and actors' strategies: from combs to plastics oyonnax Jean Saglio
    11. Producing producers: shippers, shipyards and the cooperative infrastructure of the Norwegian maritime complex since 1850 Hakon With Andersen

  • Editors

    Charles F. Sabel, Columbia University, New York

    Jonathan Zeitlin, University of Wisconsin, Madison


    Carlo Poni, Alain Cottereau, Rudolf Boch, Beatrice Veyrassat, Jonathan Zeitlin, Alain Dewerpe, Philip Scranton, Peer Hull Kristensen, Charles Sabel, Vittorio Capecchi, Jean Saglio, Hakon With Andersen

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