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A Cultural History of Work in the Early Modern Age

A Cultural History of Work in the Early Modern Age

by Bert De Munck

Bert De Munck is Full Professor at the University of Antwerp, Belgium. He teaches ‘Early Modern History’, ‘Theory of Historical Knowledge’, and ‘Heritage and Public history’. He is a member of the Centre for Urban History, Antwerp, and the Director of the interdisciplinary Urban Studies Institute. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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and Thomas Max Safley

Thomas Max Safley is Professor of Early Modern European History at the University of Pennsylvania, USA. A specialist in the economic and social history of early modern Europe, he has published extensively on the history of marriage and the family, the history of poverty and charity, and the history of labor and business. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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(eds)
Bloomsbury Academic, 2019
  • DOI:
    10.5040/9781350078260
  • ISBN:
    978-1-4742-4487-9 (hardback)

    978-1-4742-4503-6 (set)

    978-1-3500-7826-0 (online)
  • Edition:
    First Edition
  • Place of Publication:
    London
  • Published Online:
    2018
A Cultural History of Work in the Early Modern Age
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In the early modern age technological innovations were unimportant relative to political and social transformations. The size of the workforce and the number of wage dependent people increased, due in large part to population growth, but also as a result of changes in the organization of work. The diversity of workplaces in many significant economic sectors was on the rise in the 16th-century: family farming, urban crafts and trades, and large enterprises in mining, printing and shipbuilding. Moreover, the increasing influence of global commerce, as accompanied by local and regional specialization, prompted an increased reliance on forms of under-compensated and non-compensated work which were integral to economic growth. Economic volatility swelled the ranks of the mobile poor, who moved along Europe’s roads seeking sustenance, and the endemic warfare of the period prompted young men to sign on as soldiers and sailors. Colonists migrated to Europe’s territories in the Americas, Africa, and Asia, while others were forced overseas as servants, convicts or slaves. The early modern age proved to be a “renaissance” in the political, social and cultural contexts of work which set the stage for the technological developments to come.