Governance, technology and craftsmanship in the Belgian window-glass industry : the Charleroi region, 1830-1914
This thesis contributes to the debates on the nature of the 19th-century industrialisation and technological development exploring the case of the Belgian window-glass industry. During the period between the Belgian independence in 1830 and the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, this industry experienced steady growth, making Belgium one of the most important window glass manufacturers in the world. Moreover, during this period, this industry was largely concentrated in the Charleroi region. Therefore, the study takes a primarily regional approach, adopting the Industrial-district theory as its principal conceptual framework. The study of the history of the Belgian window-glass industry, as presented in this thesis, contributes to several historiographical topics, such as the history of the window-glass industry in 19th-century Belgium, the history of industrial districts as specific structures of business organisation, and the history of the relationships between technological innovations and craftmanship in the context of the industrial revolution. Therefore, the objectives of this study transcend the purely Belgian context, as it contributes to important international debates, taking the often-overlooked industry as a specific case. The development of the Belgian window-glass industry is specifically explored through the examination of the governance structures that emerged in the Charleroi district, as well as through the development and management of technological innovations and their relationship to craft traditions. The findings of this study present a picture of a dynamic industrial environment consisting of multiple actors (firms, business interest organsations, government) that showed remarkable technological creativity, integrating traditional craftmanship and technological innovations, and was characterised by business organisations that was tightly integrated in the international networks of commerce and information exchange. Yet, this organisation was not without its limitations, as exemplified by some ‘dissident firms’ that refused cooperation for various reasons.
Antwerp : University of Antwerp, Faculty of Arts, History Department , 2023
413 p.
Supervisor: De Munck, Bert [Supervisor]
Supervisor: Caen, Joost [Supervisor]
Full text (open access)
Research group
Publication type
Publications with a UAntwerp address
External links
Creation 19.01.2024
Last edited 27.01.2024
To cite this reference