French industrialization, although often treated as trailing behind that of Britain, offers, through its particular characteristics of strong state involvement and political turmoil, an exemplary field for studying the interactions of science, industry, and the state. This essay examines the theme of “disinterestedness” as it runs through the four papers of the special section devoted to French industry. The papers reveal distinct communities of industry and academic science with competing valorizations of secrecy, publicity, and profit. While historical actors moved between these communities (often with great reward), doing so was neither always easy nor without risk.


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