Pierre Guillaume Frédéric le Play

Frédéric le Play
Born Pierre Guillaume Frédéric le Play
(1806-04-11)11 April 1806
La Rivière-Saint-Sauveur, France
Died 5 April 1882(1882-04-05) (aged 75)
Paris, France
Institution École Polytechnique, Écoles des mines
Influences Joseph de Maistre, Louis de Bonald
Influenced René de La Tour du Pin, Albert de Mun, Charles Maurras, Louis Dimier, Edmond Demolins, Frédéric Amouretti

Pierre Guillaume Frédéric Le Play (French: [lə.plɛ]; April 11, 1806 – April 5, 1882) was a French engineer, sociologist and economist.


The son of a custom-house official, Le Play was educated at the École Polytechnique and the École des Mines.[1] In 1834, he was appointed chairman of the permanent committee of mining statistics. In 1840, he became engineer-in-chief and professor of metallurgy at the École des Mines, where he became inspector in 1848.

For nearly a quarter of a century Le Play travelled around Europe, collecting a vast amount of material bearing on the social and economic condition of the working classes. In 1855, he published Les Ouvriers Européens, a series of 36 monographs on the budgets of typical families selected from a wide range of industries. This work was crowned with the Montyon prize conferred by the Académie des Sciences. In 1856, Le Play founded the Société internationale des études pratiques d'économie sociale, which has devoted its energies principally to forwarding social studies on the lines laid down by its founder. The journal of the society, La Réforme Sociale, founded in 1881, is published fortnightly.

Napoleon III, who held him in high esteem, entrusted him with the organization of the Exhibition of 1855, and appointed him counsellor of state, commissioner general of the Exhibition of 1867, senator of the empire and Grand Officer of the Légion d'honneur.

Initially an atheist, Le Play gradually became convinced of the need for religion. In 1864, he published an essay defending Christianity against Darwinism and Scepticism.[2] He converted to Roman Catholicism in 1879, three years before his death. Blum (2004) included Le Play in his anthology of French counter-revolutionary thinkers.


In English translation


  1. Paris School of Mines
  2.  Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Pierre-Guillaume-Frédéric Le Play". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.


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