Andreas Exner & Marielle Zuk
Complete study to be downloaded here.
Our analysis of the uprisings of 1848 has allowed us to develop a body of observations we believe may be applied to future studies of uprisings both past and present. By taking a staple food such as bread as the focus of our research, we were able to analyze and describe certain social, economic, and political factors of the uprising without deviating from the core issue that food is of great importance to human activity. The particular human activity under scrutiny in this report is the uprisings of 1848 Vienna, which, as we have seen, cannot be evaluated simply as a middle-class, bourgeois push for liberal democratic reform. Without the revolutionary muscle of the lower classes and petty bourgeoisie, these uprisings arguably would have had a weaker, and decidedly different character. The lower classes and petty bourgeoisie were spurred to action by a variety of factors and circumstances, yet the fact that affordable food was not accessible to many stands out as a primary factor.
Yet, as reiterated throughout this paper, class and gender constructions are not sociologically uniform and are manifested and experienced by individuals with differing levels of significance. Thus, by focusing on bread, rather than a particular social class or gender, we were able to describe and explore the heterogeneity within these socially-constructed categories and produce scholarship we hope will be considered nuanced and cognizant of the multiplicitly of experiences triggered by events and trends and how these experiences may in turn, effect future courses of action.
Our decision to pair literature sources written many years after the events with an analysis of widely-circulated newspapers issued during the time allowed us to see how our hunches and hypotheses played out in the popular media, thus enabling us to see how events, processes and trends were portrayed to contemporaries. The fact that the year surveyed included both periods of intense censorship and periods of relatively free press allowed us a measure of valuable insight into what the absolutist government believed to be newsworthy and what the newspapers themselves valued as news. The analysis of the newspaper also showed a lack of information about the working class and their issues and interests, which indirectly bolsters our conclusion that issues of survival and hunger were relevant only to a certain portion of participants in the uprisings.
The uprisings of 1848 in Vienna were the result of a confluence of factors. They represented a call for change, a call for recognition and representation, a call for modern politics, and a call for the maintenance of a moral economy as much as they represented a call for food and basic survival.