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Karl Marx


1) Which is your branch of industry?

2) Is the concern in which you work carried on by private capitalists or by a joint-stock company? Give the names of the private employer or the manager of the company.

3) State the number of persons employed.

4) State their sex and age.

5) Which is the lowest age at which children—male or female—are admitted?

6) State the number of overlookers and other employés who are no common wage-labourers.

7) Are apprentices employed and how many?

8) Are there besides the usual and regularly employed workmen others called in from abroad at certain seasons?

9) Is your master's business exclusively or mainly carried on for local customers, for the general home-market, or for export to Foreign countries?

10) Is the place of work rural or townish?

11) If your industry is carried on in a country-place, does it form your main subsistence or is it accessory to, or combined with, agriculture?

12) Is the work entirely or mainly hand-work or machine work?

13) State the division of labour in the business where you are employed.

14) Is steam-power employed as the motive power?

15) State the number of sets of working rooms in which the different parts of the business are carried on and describe that part of the industrial process in which you are employed, not only technically, but with respect to the muscular and nervous strain it imposes and its general effects upon the health of the operative.

16) Describe the sanitary state of the place of work in regard to size (the space left for each operative), ventilation, temperature, whitewashing, lieux d'aisance, general cleanliness, noise of machinery, dust, dampness etc.

17) Is there any supervision, governmental or municipal, over the sanitary state of the working place?

18) Are there any peculiar deleterious influences in your business which breed specific diseases amongst the workmen?

19) Is the working place overcrowded with machinery?

20) Are the motive power, the machinery of transmission and the working machinery so secured as to prevent bodily harm to the workmen?

21) State the main accidents to limb and life of the operatives during your personal experience.

22) If working in a mine, state the precautionary measures taken by your employer to secure ventilation and to prevent explosions and other dangerous accidents.

23) If working in a metal manufacture, chemical manufacture, for railways or other specially perilous industry, state whether precautionary measures are taken by your employer.

24) What means of illumination, gas-light, petroleum etc. are applied in your working place?

25) Are there sufficient means of escape within and outside of the working buildings in case of fire?

26) In case of an accident, is the employer legally bound to indemnify the sufferer or his family?

27) If not, does he indemnify anyhow the parties that have come to grief in the work of enriching him?

28) Does there exist any medical attendance at your working place?

29) If you work at home, state the condition of your working room; whether you use any tools or also little machines; whether you employ your wife and children or other helpmates, adults or children, male or female; whether you work for private customers or for an "entrepreneur"; whether you engage directly with him or through middlemen.


1) State the usual daily hours of work and the usual number of working days in the week.

2) State the number of holidays during the year.

3) Which are the interruptions of the working day?

4) Are meal-times fixed at certain regular intervals or are they irregularly taken?[a]

5) Is work performed during meal-times?

6) If steam-power is employed, state the actual time of starting and stopping it.

7) Is there night-work?

8) State the working time of children and young persons under 16 years of age.

9) Do different sets of children and young persons relieve each other during the working day?

10) Are such legislative enactments as exist for children's labour enforced by the government and strictly carried out by the employers?

11) Do there exist any schools for children and young persons engaged in your industry? If so, at what hours of the day are the children in school? What are they taught?

12) Where the work is continued night and day, what shifting system—relays of one set of workmen by another—is employed?

13) To what extent are the usual hours of work lengthened during times of business pressure?

14) Is the cleansing of machinery performed by an extra number of workmen, hired to the purpose, or is it gratuitously done by the operatives employed at the machines, during their usual working day?

15) Which are the regulations and penalties with regard to the exact attendance of workmen at the time when the day's work begins or when it recommences after meals?

16) How much time is daily lost to you by going from home to the working place and by returning home from the working place?


1) Which is the mode of engagement with your master? Are you engaged daily, weekly, monthly etc.?

2) Which is the term stipulated for your receiving or giving notice of leave?

3) In case of breach of contract, if the master be the defaulter, which penalties does he incur?

4) If the workman be the defaulter, which penalties does he incur?

5) If apprentices are employed, state the terms of their contract.

6) Is your occupation regular or irregular?

7) Is your branch of industry mainly carried on in certain seasons or is work, in ordinary times, more or less evenly distributed over the whole year? If your work is bound to certain seasons, how do you live in the interval?

8) Are your wages calculated by time or by piece-work?

9) If by time, are they reckoned by the single hour or by the whole working day?

10) Are extra wages—and which—paid in case of overtime?

11) If your wages are paid à la pièce, state the method of fixing them; if you be employed in industries where the mass of the work done is estimated by measurement or by weight (as f.i. in coal-mines), are there trickeries recurred to by your master and his underlings in order to defraud you of part of your earnings?

12) If you are paid by piece-work, is the quality of the article made a pretext for fraudulent deduction from wages?

13) Whether calculated by time or by piece-work, at what terms are your wages paid? In other words how long a credit must you give to your master before receiving pay for work done? Is it paid after the lapse of a week, a month etc.?

14) Have you found that such delay in the payment of wages obliges you to frequently recur to the monts de piété[b] paying there high interest, and denuding you of things you ought to have at your command, or to take credit from shopkeepers, and, by becoming their debtors, to become their prey?

15) Are the wages paid directly by the "patron" or through a middleman, "marchandeur"[c] etc.?

16) If the wages are paid through "marchandeurs" or other middlemen, state the terms of your engagement.

17) State the daily or weekly amount of your wages in money.

18) State the wages for the same time of the women and children co-operating with you in the same workshop.

19) State the highest and lowest day wages during last month.

20) State the highest and lowest piece wages during last month.

21) State your actual earnings during the same time, and if you have a family, also those of your wife and children.

22) Are the wages paid in money or partly otherwise?

23) If you rent your house accommodation from your employer, state on what terms? Does he deduct the house-rent from your wages?

24) State the price of your necessaries, such as:[d]

    a) the pay for your dwelling and the terms on which it is rented; the number of rooms of which it consists; how many people live in it; repair and insurance; purchase and repair of furniture; lodging; heating, lighting, water etc.;

    b) nourishment: bread, meat, vegetables (potatoes etc.); milk products, eggs, fish; butter, oil, lard, sugar, salt, spice; coffee, tea, chicory; beer, cider, wine etc.; tobacco;

    c) clothes (for the parents and the children); washing; articles of hygiene, bath, soap etc.;

    d) various expenses, such as for mail, loan and payment for keeping things in pawnshops; expenses for teaching children in school, paying for apprenticeship, purchase of journals, books etc. Contributions to societies for mutual relief, to strike fund, to associations, TRADES-UNIONS etc.;

    e) expenses, if there are any, connected with the exercise of your trade;

    f) taxes.

25) Try to arrange in form of a budget your weekly and yearly income (and that of your family, if you have one) and your weekly and yearly expense.

26) Have you remarked during your personal experience a greater rising in the necessaries of life (such as house-rent, price of food etc.) than in that of wages?

27) State changes in the taux de salaires for as long a time as you can remember.

28) State fall of wages during the times of stagnation or crisis.

29) State rise of wages in so-called times of prosperity.

30) State interruption of work through change of fashion, and partial or general crises.

31) State the changes in the price of the articles you produce or the services you render as compared with the simultaneous changes or permanency of your wages.

32) Have in the time of your experience workmen been displaced by the introduction of machines or other improvements?

33) Has with the development of machinery and the productive power of labour the intensity and the duration of labour decreased or increased?

34) Are you aware of any rise of wages in consequence of improved production?

35) Have you ever known instances wherein an ordinary operative was enabled to retire, at 50 years of age, on money earned as a wages-labourer?

36) What is the number of years for which, in your branch of industry, an operative of average health can continue his work?


1) Do trades-unions exist in your trade, and how are they managed?

2) How many strikes have occurred in your trade during your personal experience?

3) How long did those strikes last?

4) Were they partial or general?

5) Was their purpose an increase of wages or resistance to the reduction of the same; or did they relate to the length of the working day; or did they arise from any other motive?

6) What was their result?

7) Does your trade support the strikes of workmen belonging to other trades?

8) State the rules and the penalties for breach of them established by your master for the government of his wages-labourers.[e]

9) Do there exist combinations between the masters for imposing upon the workmen reduction of wages, increase of working day, interference with strikes, and generally for enforcing their behests upon the working class?

10) Has, in your experience, the government abused the public force in the service of the masters against their men?

11) Has the same government, in your experience, ever interfered for the men against the encroachments and unlawful combinations of the masters?

12) Does the same government enforce the factory laws, as far as they exist, against the masters? Do its inspectors—if there are any—strictly fulfil their duties?

13) Do there exist in your workshop or your trade, societies for mutual relief and assistance in cases of accidents, sickness, death, temporary incapacity for work, old age etc.?

14) Is the membership in such societies voluntary or compulsory? Are their funds exclusively under the control of the workmen?

15) If the contributions to such funds are compulsory and under the control of the master, does he deduct the contributions from the wages; does he pay interest for them? Have the working-men giving or receiving leave their instalments returned?

16) Are there working-men's co-operative enterprises in your department of industry? How are they managed? Do they also employ extraneous operatives for wages in the same way as the capitalists do?

17) Are there in your trade workshops where part of the retribution of the operative is paid under the name of wages and another part in so-called shares in the master's profit? Compare the entire income of those operatives with that of others where there does not exist this so-called partnership. State the engagements of workmen living under this regime. State whether they are allowed to participate in strikes etc. or whether they are only permitted to be the obedient "subjects" of their master.

18) Which is the general physical, intellectual and moral condition of working-men and working-women in your branch of trade?

Drawn up in the first half of April 1880
First published in La Revue socialiste, No. 4, April 20, 1880
Reproduced from the manuscript
MECW Vol.24 pp. 328-334


[1] Marx drew up this questionnaire in the first half of April 1880 at the request of Benoît Malon, publisher of La Revue socialiste. It was printed on April 20 there anonymously and also appeared as a separate leaflet (25,000 copies), which was distributed throughout France. That Marx was its author was established from his letter to Sorge [Friedrich Adolph Sorge] of November 5, 1880 (see present edition, Vol. 46). As distinct from Marx's manuscript, in the French edition the items were numbered consecutively and two more questions were added (No. 88: "Describe the action by the members of arbitration boards", and No. 101: "General observations"); besides there were some other additions.

The introduction opening the questionnaire noted that it was the first serious attempt to form an opinion of the condition of the French working class, and called on all urban and agricultural workers, as well as all socialists of France, to take part in it. It said: "We hope to find support for our cause among all the urban and agricultural workers, who understand that they alone can describe the hardships they endure with the full knowledge of the matter; that they alone, and not the saviours sent by Providence, can vigorously apply remedies in the struggle against social evils from which they suffer; we count also on the socialists of all schools who, striving for a social reform, must strive for an exact and definite knowledge of the conditions under which the working class, the class to which the future belongs, works and begins to move.

"These instructions of labour must be the first act which the Social-Democrats must perform in order to prepare a social renovation."

The French edition of the "Questionnaire" was the basis for the Italian (La Lotta, Milan, Nos. 1, 2, 8, July 1, 2, 8, 1880), the Polish (Kwestyjonaryjusz robotniczy, 1880, supplement to Nos. 10-11 of the Równość, July-August 1880), and the Dutch (Recht voor Allen, October 30, 1880) translations.

The "Questionnaire" was published in English for the first time as a leaflet, A Workers' Enquiry. By Karl Marx, London, Communist Party of Gr. Britain [1926].

In the present edition the "Questionnaire" is printed according to Marx's manuscript written in English and, in part, in French.

[a] Here the following question was added by Charles Longuet: "Are they taken in or outside of the building?"—Ed.

[b] Pawnshops.—Ed.

[c] Contractor.—Ed.

[d] Points a-f were written by Marx in French.—Ed.

[e] The following passage is crossed out in the manuscript: "in his workshop, where he, of course, unites the supreme legislative, judiciary and executive powers in his hands".—Ed.

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