Abstract: Reinterpreting the Guilds

Barbara Hahn


This paper sketches the recent historiography of guilds and the older debates about their decline before and during industrialization in order to raise different questions. If Ogilvie has demonstrated that guilds did not decline in the face of proto-industrialization, what is the relationship among the three different system of production: urban-based guilds, proto-industrial merchant-directed households in the countryside, and industrial mass production in factories? What was the relationship between guilds and local governments?  This paper argues that the Industrial Revolution in British textile production draw upon older economic structures even as it destroyed them.