13. March 2023

New article by Dr. Jutta Wimmler in Formative Modernities in the Early Modern Atlantic and Beyond. Identities, Polities and Glocal Economies

Troublemakers in a State-Run Enterprise: Conflict Management and the Limits of Social Disciplining in the Königliches Lagerhaus Berlin, c. 1720–1760

Founded in 1713, the Königliches Lagerhaus Berlin produced several types of woolen cloth—prominently among them, uniforms for the growing Prussian army. It was one of the kingdom’s largest and most important manufactories. 

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in: Werner Stangl & Veronika Hyden-Hanscho (Eds.): Formative Modernities in the Early Modern Atlantic and Beyond. Identities, Polities and Glocal Economies. Basingstoke: Palgrave (2023): 173–196.

The chapter examines instances of conflict in an eighteenth-century Prussian centralized manufactory in order to assess how individual employees navigated between their responsibilities toward the state and the state’s responsibility toward them. Using the example of “troublemakers”—individuals who repeatedly clashed either with co-workers or with their superiors— it reveals the existence of a system of conflict management that allowed individual workers to voice their grievances and be heard. The extant letters written by these workers to the management (and sometimes even to the king himself) illustrate a certain sense of entitlement that conflicts with our understanding of a Prussian “military state” based on obedience and discipline. The chapter argues that this was the case because the administration of this enterprise (and by extension, the state) took over central functions from the trade guilds. In part, the employees transferred certain expectations regarding their well-being from the guilds to the state and acted accordingly.

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