Introduction: 20,000 Fools

  • Ralph Kingston
Part of the War, Culture and Society, 1750–1850 book series (WCS)


Although French bureaucracy already existed, the French Revolution invented the ‘bureaucrat’. The word was first used by the journalist Fouilloux in the Père Duchesne in 1791, writing that the object of his most justified contempt was the bureaucrat, product of the ‘famine pact’, harbinger of a ‘new mode of servitude’.1 The word ‘bureaucrat’ – distinct from both ‘agent’ and ‘administrator’ – was then officially codified by La néologiste française in 1796 as an ‘expression of contempt’. ‘Bureaucracy’, according to the Néologiste, was not a form of government, but, rather, the collective noun for ‘bureaucrats’, and a means to refer to their malign influence.2


Social Capital Office Worker French Revolution Office Politics Administrative Reform 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Fouilloux ‘Grande indignation du Père Duchêne, contre les bureaucrates, tous sacrés jean-foutres’, Je suis le véritable Père Duchesne, 4 (July 1791).Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Jacques Peuchet, ‘Bureaucratie’, reproduced in Guy Thuillier, Le bureaucratie aux XIXe et XXe siècles (Paris, 1987), 56–61.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    Louis-Sébastien Mercier, Néologie, ou vocabulaire de mots nouveaux, à renouveler ou pris dans des acceptions nouvelles (Paris, Year IX (1801)), 20.Google Scholar
  4. 11.
    J.-R. Surrateau, ‘Fonctionnaires et employés’, Annales historiques de la Révolution française, 30 (1958), 71–73.Google Scholar
  5. 15.
    J.C. Scott, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (New Haven, 1998).Google Scholar
  6. 16.
    Laurent Dubois, A Colony of Citizens: Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787–1804 (Chapel Hill, NC, 2004).Google Scholar
  7. 17.
    Suzanne Desan, The Family on Trial in Revolutionary France (Berkeley, CA, 2004).Google Scholar
  8. 18.
    Timothy Tackett, Becoming a Revolutionary: The Deputies of the French National Assembly and the Emergence of a Revolutionary Culture (1789–1790) (Princeton, NJ, 1996).Google Scholar
  9. 19.
    David Garrioch, The Formation of the Parisian Bourgeoisie, 1690–1830 (Cambridge, MA, 1987).Google Scholar
  10. 20.
    William M. Reddy, The Invisible Code: Honor and Sentiment in Postrevolutionary France, 1814–1848 (Berkeley, CA, 1997). This is not dissimilar to historian Theodore Zeldin’s portrayal of the bureaucrat as ‘a sort of Frankenstein’ made monstrous by the ‘ambiguities and insecurities’ of his position: France, 1848–1945, I: Ambition, Love and Politics (Oxford, 1973), 129–130.Google Scholar
  11. 21.
    Guy Thuillier has also written several books on nineteenth-century bureaucracy in this vein, including Bureaucratie et bureaucrates en France au XIXe siècle (Paris, 1980).Google Scholar
  12. 22.
    Nicos Poulantzas, Classes in Contemporary Capitalism, trans. David Fernbach (London, 1975), 285–294.Google Scholar
  13. 25.
    Sarah Maza, The Myth of the French Bourgeoisie (Cambridge, MA, 2003).Google Scholar
  14. 26.
    Adeline Daumard, Maisons de Paris et propriétaires parisiens au XIXe siècle (1809–1880) (Paris, 1965).Google Scholar
  15. 27.
    Maurice Agulhon, Le cercle dans la France bourgeoise 1810–1848 (Paris, 1977).Google Scholar
  16. 28.
    Pierre Bourdieu, ‘The forms of capital’, in Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education, ed. J. Richardson (New York, 1986), 241–258.Google Scholar
  17. 29.
    For a definition of ‘symbolic capital’, see, in addition to the works cited above, Pierre Bourdieu, Pascalian Meditations (Cambridge, 2000), 166, 242.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ralph Kingston 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ralph Kingston
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HistoryAuburn UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations