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Office Politics: Bureaucrats and Bourgeois Types in Post-Revolutionary France

Kingston, Ralph Francis Sydney; (2002) Office Politics: Bureaucrats and Bourgeois Types in Post-Revolutionary France. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis investigates the development of bureaucracy and the emergence of "bourgeois" identities in the aftermath of the French Revolution. It begins by studying administrative manuals and organisation plans, arguing that post-revolutionary administration attempted to advise and educate, as well as command, the citizens of France. Consequently, the architects who converted ex-aristocratic hotels into Ministries between 1792 and 1796 prioritised communication with the public. Demand for new corridors and the proliferation of antechambers during the Empire, however, revealed the employees' unease about the new transparency of administrative service. Moreover, working in a chain of correspondence and not as individual authors, administrators had to find alternatives to citing production when soliciting promotions or fighting to keep their job. Personnel files from the ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs divulge the successes and failures of the Ministry clerks' strategies of self-promotion. Disputes during the Revolution led to bitter denunciation; competing claims for authorial credit caused friction between officemates. In 1807, the Ministries attempted to regularise promotions and rewards by mandating uniform etats de services for all employees. Merit was no longer defined in terms of production, but counted in years of service. In a similar fashion, the employees' authority as authors outside the office could only be established by accumulating "honour" in emulative societies or by means of a rhetoric of paternity, established in formal documentation. During the Restoration, mystificateurs lambasted the administrator's legitimacy. Drawing on their spoof manuals, caricaturists and vaudevillists then fleshed out a wholly negative "bureaucratic type". When Balzac adopted this "type" in the 1830s, he made it a means to condemn the "petty bourgeoisie", a buffer between his bourgeois reader and the "dangerous" classes. Quite simply, the "bureaucrat" could be bought. From Balzac to Marx to Weber, he embodied the worst traits of the "bourgeois" century.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Office Politics: Bureaucrats and Bourgeois Types in Post-Revolutionary France
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Social sciences; French Revolution
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10101062
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