Doing It for Them : Corporatism and Apprentice Activism in Switzerland, 1880-1950

Pädagogische Hochschule Thurgau
Eigenmann, Philipp; Geiss, Michael

In the history of vocational education and training, apprentices seldom feature as actors. They are also rarely mentioned among those affected by economic conditions and political measures. Studies of England and Scotland have shown that, over a period of decades, there was a widespread apprentice movement during the twentieth century. So far, studies of German-speaking areas have barely registered this and have solely concentrated on apprentice protests in the 1960s and 1970s. The present article addresses this desideratum, investigating the form and content of how apprentices articulated their interests in Switzerland between 1880 and 1950. The main reason why Switzerland never experienced major sustained apprentice protests was because of its corporatist organisation of vocational education policy. This policy meant that there was no space available for independent forms of protest as charitable organisations, industrial and occupational associations, trade unions and state agencies assumed the task of articulating the interests of apprentices.


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