Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

The turn will continue: Contracting, work, and remuneration in the maritime cargo-handling guilds of Barcelona during liberalization (c. 1760-1840)

Brendan von Briesen


The objective of this investigation is to relate the modes of contracting, work, and remuneration in the tertiary sub-sector of maritime cargo-handling in the port of Barcelona during the process of the liberalization of the trades (c.1760-1840). The guilds studied were charged with all of the activities of the processes of loading and unloading of goods from merchant ships to and from the beach; the transportation of these goods to and within the Customs House (and supervising their temporary storage here); and the subsequent delivery of goods to the owners, either directly or by transportation to storage facilities, stores, or other locations. These responsibilities were codified in guild ordinances that established monopolistic privileges (and prohibitions against non-guild members). The relationship between the mode of work and the organizational model of the respective guilds is noteworthy: these practices and models were based on customs and traditions, reflected group values, and were given official status in guild charters and the privileges contained therein. These officially recognized practices were challenged by merchants and local authorities and were eventually delegitimized during the process of liberalizing the trades.

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