De l’usine à l’utopie : New Lanark 1785-1825. Histoire d’un village ouvrier « modèle »

Abstract : This thesis examines the textile industrial village of New Lanark (Scotland). Founded in 1785 and now a World Heritage site, it is mostly renowned for its reputation as a « model » factory, thanks to its association with Robert Owen (1771-1858), himself considered the « Father of British socialism ». It argues that such myth-making must be studied in context in order to grasp both its scope and significance, submitting it to a deconstruction and reconstruction process. Firstly, the history of the industrial village will be studied in the context of the Industrial Revolution in order to understand the specificities of this type of settlement, namely its close links with so-called « paternalistic » management methods. Examining paternalist discourses also sheds light on the foundations and formation of Owen’s thought, as he used New Lanark as a testbed for an experiment in social reform. Secondly, the industrial village will be studied per se in order to confront its internal dynamics with the application of Owen’s policies. Thirdly, we will analyse how New Lanark was received in its day, as Owen launched a campaign for the promotion of his doctrine, which amounted to the birth of the first British socialist movement in the late 1820s. The pioneering status which both New Lanark and Owen have been awarded also need to be analysed in relation to the latter’s labelling as a « utopian socialist ». The making of this tradition can therefore be understood as a series of strategic processes whereby Owen has been integrated into the socialist canon despite his supposed eccentricities and thanks primarily to his enlightened management policies at New Lanark, thus establishing him as the founder of a distinctively British socialism owing nothing to Marxism.
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Ophélie Siméon. De l’usine à l’utopie : New Lanark 1785-1825. Histoire d’un village ouvrier « modèle ». Histoire. Lyon 2, 2013. Français. ⟨tel-01893524v2⟩

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