The number of studies discussing the labour relationship under industrial capitalism is overwhelming, but the literature on labour and its concrete, day-today shop-floor practices is much less abundant. How and by whom workers were supervised is one of the neglected aspects in the history of labour relations. After an insightful introductory chapter discussing the different forms of supervision in the United States, Britain, France and Germany before the First World War, the case studies in this volume focus on foremen: vital, but largely unstudied figures in the history of factory life, labour relations and management.
Illustrating the multiple faces of the foreman, the contributors examine the artisanal sector, textiles, mining, printing, engineering, heavy manufacturing and car industries in Western Europe and show that the foreman was a multifaceted character who possessed technical expertise in addition to educational and organizational qualities. This comprehensive volume is further enhanced by comparisons with practices of supervision in Russia, Japan, China and India.