A Revolution in Representations of Work. The Emergence over the 19th Century of the Statistical Category “Occupied Population” in France, Great Britain, and the United States
The division of a country’s population into occupied and unoccupied persons –a distinction that stands as the common foundation for socio-occupational classifications that vary from country to country– seems so widely used and generally accepted as to be almost invisible. The strangeness of this solid construction, however, invites us to examine the long and difficult process that culminated, in the late nineteenth century, with the adoption of a definition of “ being occupied ” based on a single criterion : the marketability of a person’s labor. This neglected aspect of census history enables us to shed light on the nature and diverse national rhythms of a development which it is not excessive to regard as a revolution in statistical representations of work.