Abstract

Guild statutes awarded master wigmakers in eighteenth-century France exclusive control over the hair industry. The wigmaker guild was uniquely organized on the basis of a royal charge that wigmakers purchased prior to becoming guild masters. Non-masters who ran independent wigmaking enterprises committed a crime against the social order that was taken seriously by the state. The essay describes the social network that spanned from the monarchy to the Parisian neighborhoods and that supported guild officers' routine confrontations of illicit wigmakers. Despite guild regulations to the contrary, illicit wigmakers, through their continuous presence, expanded their identities and, benefiting from bourgeois consumerism, contributed to historical changes in the hair industry. Confrontations with illicit wigmakers are examined as a form of conversation concerning the social organization of work. Conclusions are based on 635 confrontations with illicit wigmakers by guild officers in the presence of the Police du Châtelet between 1723 and 1764.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-315X
Print ISSN
0013-2586
Pages
pp. 119-137
Launched on MUSE
2004-10-11
Open Access
No
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