Apprenticeship or vocational training is a subject of lively debate. Economic historians tend to see apprenticeship as a purely economic phenomenon, as an 'incomplete contract' in need of legal and institutional enforcement mechanisms. The contributors to this volume have adopted a broader perspective. They regard learning on the shop floor as a complex social and cultural process, to be situated in an ever-changing historical context. The results are surprising. The authors convincingly show that research on apprenticeship and learning on the shop floor is intimately associated with migration patterns, family economy and household strategies, gender perspectives, urban identities and general educational and pedagogical contexts.
Bert De Munck is Lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, where he teaches social and economic history of the early modern period, history and social theory, and European ethnology and heritage. His research focuses on the history of craft guilds, 'social capital' and vocational education. Steven L. Kaplan is Professor of European History at Cornell University. He published Les ventres de Paris. Pouvoir et approvisionnement dans la France d'Ancien Regime (Fayard, 1988), Le meilleur pain du monde. Les boulangers de Paris au XVIIIe siecle (Fayard, 1996), La fin des corporations (Fayard, 2001) and (as editor, with Philippe Minard) La France, malade du corporatisme(2004). Hugo Soly is Professor of Early Modern History and Director of the Centre for Historical Research into Urban Transformations at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium. His writings focus on five major areas - urban development, poverty and poor relief, 'deviant' behaviour, industrialization, and craft guilds. Currently he is working on perceptions of work in pre-industrial Europe.