The Golden Age of State Enquiries. Rural Enquiries in the Nineteenth Century, from fact gathering to political instrument (Nadine Vivier, éd.)

VivierParution de Nadine Vivier (ed.), The Golden Age of State Enquiries. Rural Enquiries in the Nineteenth Century, from fact gathering to political instrument, Brepols, 2014, 291 p. ISBN 978-2-503-55284-2

Présentation de l’éditeur

Toute intervention de l’État dans le domaine social exige des connaissances, généralement acquises par une enquête diligentée par l’État. On trouve de telles enquêtes dès l’Antiquité mais celles du XIXe siècle présentent des caractéristiques nouvelles par rapport aux précédentes car la nature de l’État a changé et les moyens scientifiques et financiers ont progressé. De grandes enquêtes ont été lancées pour évaluer les transformations du monde rural. Le XIXe siècle a vraiment été l’âge d’or des enquêtes gouvernementales ou parlementaires. Inspirées de la sociologie naissante, elles visaient à procurer un savoir scientifique accessible à tous et elles voulaient proposer des progrès agricoles et une amélioration de la vie rurale.

Ce volume n’étudie pas le contenu des réponses aux enquêtes ; il se concentre sur les motivations et le déroulement de ces enquêtes. La comparaison internationale (Europe occidentale surtout) met en valeur l’importance des transferts culturels transnationaux. Les enquêtes britanniques et françaises ont été considérées comme les modèles d’un État civilisé moderne. Les méthodes statistiques ont été discutées dans les congrès internationaux et adaptées dans chaque pays selon la conception du pouvoir de l’État.

Any state intervention in society requires an important degree of knowledge, usually given by a state-sponsored enquiry. Some of these surveys can be traced back to Antiquity, but by the nineteenth century enquiries prove to be different because the nature of the state and the distribution of political influence had changed, and the scientific and financial means to investigate had progressed. This new context prompted states to launch large enquiries to assess transformations in the rural world. The heart of the nineteenth century was the golden age of state enquiries. Inspired by the nascent sociology, they fulfilled the desire for scientific knowledge accessible to everyone and the search for innovative solutions for the improvement of agriculture and rural life.

The present volume does not focus on the content of the enquiries; it examines their origins and functioning as new and important objects of historical research. 14 studies are gathered from across 12 countries. The main focus is on Western Europe, with broadening perspectives to the East (Ottoman Empire) and West (Canada and Mexico). The International comparative perspectives highlight the importance of transnational cultural transfers in the nineteenth-century. French and British methods were considered models of progress and of a civilized state. Statistical methods and the needs of the Administration were discussed and adapted in each state according to their conception of state power, in a context of the construction of the nation state.

Table des matières

  1. Introduction: The age of monumental investigations, Nadine Vivier, p. 11
  2. Inquiries or statistics ? Agricultural surveys and methodological considerations in the nineteenth century, Ute Schneider, p. 43
  3. The development of official knowledge about Irish rural society in the nineteenth century, Peter Gray, p. 59
  4. Searching for economic and administrative reforms. Enquiry of 1863 in the Ottoman Empire, Alp Yücel Kaya, p. 75
  5. The 1866 agricultural enquiry in France. Economic enquiry or political manœuvre ?, Nadine Vivier, p. 91
  6. The “Jacini Enquiry” in Italy, 1877- 1885, Giuliana Biagioli, p. 109
  7. Agricultural change and politics in late nineteenth century Britain. The enquiries of two Royal Commissions, 1879-1897, Robert M. Schwarz, p. 129
  8. The state of the rural poor: the agricultural labourer and the Royal Commission on Labour in 1890s England, Nicola Verdon, p. 127
  9. The French parliamentary inquiry of 1884. A response to multiple crises, Jonathan Liebowitz, p. 175
  10. The 1879-80 enquetes on agriculture in Hungary, András Vári , p. 191
  11. Spanish agriculture and the government enquiry. La crisis agricola y pecuaria, 1887-89, Juan Carmona and James Simpson, p. 207
  12. The parliamentary enquiry report in Denmark 1896, Ingrid Henriksen, p. 223
  13. The agricultural enquiry of 1890 in the Netherlands. Bringing the state back in, Anton Schuurman, p. 239
  14. Seeing modern agriculture. Ontario’s agricultural Commission of 1880, Daniel Samson, p. 255
  15. Agricultural statistics in modern Mexico. A real world or an imagined reality ?, Alejandro Tortolero, p. 273