Family & Co. – A French-German Dialogue on Work and Family in a Society of Orders

21. Juni 2017

On 8th and 9th of June, the institute hosted in cooperation with the IFRA/SHS a French-German workshop focussing on “Work and Family in a Society of Orders”, supported by the Deutsch-Französische Hochschule (DFH).

The workshop was attended by around 25 researchers in legal history and history, both young ones, such as PhD candidates and Postdocs at the beginning of a new project, as well as established scholars. They came from France, Germany, and Switzerland. Following the workshop’s idea to provide research perspectives from the French- and the German-speaking academia, Heide Wunder (Bad Nauheim) and Fabrice Boudjaaba (Paris) introduced to the subject, setting two of the topics of the subsequent interchange: the married couple as a working couple (H. Wunder), and the significance of a society of orders for work and family (F. Boudjaaba).

The three panels that followed focused on the negotiation of norms, integration and marginality, and on female possibilities of acquisition. Each of the panels began with a bilingual poster session that turned out to be a springboard for fruitful discussions of terminology, such as métier or huissier in French, or Arbeitspaar in German.

The lively interdisciplinary debates that emerged from the diverse topics presented centred among others on the role and the perspectives of women in medieval and early modern work, including questions of matrimonial property law, the status of wife and/or businesswoman (marchande), the economic possibilities of widows as well as the gap between legal ideals and actual female work in the emerging bourgeois society of the 19th century; the mechanisms of professional and/or familial reproduction; the distinctions and entanglements between marriage, family, and household; and finally the issue of how work was organised institutionally, for instance in guilds.

In brief, the event satisfactorily achieved its aims of providing a forum for young researchers to discuss their studies in an expert environment as well as to enable interdisciplinary exchange and a dialogue between French- and German-speaking researchers.

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