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L'encastrement des relations entre marchands en France, 1750-1850 : Une révolution dans le monde du commerce ?

Abstract : The Embeddedness of Relationships between Merchants in France (1750–1850). A Revolution in Commerce? Narratives of modernization often describe the period between 1750 and 1850 as marking a transition from embedded economic relationships (relying on kinship or community ties) to impersonal market transactions supported by legal arrangements. This article questions these narratives by studying three sets of tools employed by early modern and modern merchants on a daily basis: letters of introduction, circular letters, and notarized proxy forms. Systematic quantitative and qualitative analysis of these documents reveals few traces of a revolution or even a consistent linear evolution. To the contrary, it challenges the opposition between embedded and completely disembedded relationships. Indeed, there is strong evidence that personal and impersonal supports for economic transactions complemented rather than substituted one another. In addition, other types of embeddedness also played an important role: on the one hand, repeated interactions and relational chains involving intermediaries; on the other, a homophilic sociability among merchants that was partly based on the shared language of commerce.
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Arnaud Bartolomei, Mathieu de Olivera, Fabien Eloire, Claire Lemercier, Nadège Sougy. L'encastrement des relations entre marchands en France, 1750-1850 : Une révolution dans le monde du commerce ?. Annales. Histoire, Sciences sociales, Armand Colin, 2017, 72 (2), pp.425 - 460. ⟨hal-01963188⟩

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