Historical Social Research

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Claire Judde de Larivière & Georges Hanne, Occupational Naming Conventions: Historicity, Actors, Interactions [Abstract]

Since the Middle Ages, governments have been using occupational titles and categories as some of the main criteria for the identification of individuals. Resulting from a complex interaction between endogenous categories created by the actors in the naming process and exogenous categories developed by public authorities, occupational titles and socio-occupational categories and designations are the product of negotiations, conventions and agreements between various actors. Therefore, it appears that as part of a pragmatic approach towards the development of socio-occupational designations, it would be pertinent for historians to apply the theories of the ‘économie des conventions’. Doing so, this paper seeks to approach the issue of the historicity of occupational naming by considering the building of the state, followed by the role and autonomy of various actors in naming processes, and finally the way in which occupational registration and categorisation influenced the social prestige and ‘grandeur’ of those concerned in the creation and transformation of linguistic conventions.