This paper discusses discourses on the gender and hierarchy of trades by analysing a series of guides “pour le choix d’un état” (to help readers choose the right occupation) and, specifically, their entries on textile trades. The “choix d’un état” publishing genre emerged in France around 1850; the text analyses the major publications until the 1890s. It explores the interactions between the gendering of trades and principles of hierarchisation. It also questions the very notion of “trade”, which stands out as both crucial and elusive in 19th century texts.
By Claire Lemercier