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Les économistes et "La cité des femmes": le débat théorique sur l'accès des femmes au marché du travail (1850-1914)

By Nathalie Le Bouteillec and Loïc Charles


Historians of Economics use two main types of approaches. The first one interprets history of economic thought in terms of doctrines – mercantilism, socialism, liberalism, to name a few. Since the publication of Schumpeter’s History of Economic Analysis, this axiomatic has lost importance to an approach that focused on theoretical analysis as the main agency in the history of economics. There are however episodes of history of economics that stand in-between these two types of axiomatic, and neither one nor the other seem to offer an appropriate frame to un-derstand them. The debate on labour market legislation for women that spread across European countries at the end of the 19th century fits into this category. Because it concerned a major as-pect of labour market, it was in the core of the main economic theories (classical political econ-omy, marxism, marginalism) and doctrines (liberalism VS socialism) from mid-19th century on. However, the frontier between partisans of legal restrictions for women access to labour market and free market contenders did not correspond with those of historians of economic thought.

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