The political impact of the crisis on the French « working class »

17 août 2011 par lucieberaudsudreau

Please find below Mrs Nonna Mayer’s presentation at the Oxford-Princeton conference on the topic « Popular reactions to the economic crisis » (more information on the conference here and there).

The Political Impact of the Crisis on the French « Working Class » : More to the Right ?


This paper is about the political impact of the 2008 recession on the French working class. Our definition of the working class includes, besides the old factory working class, the new service proletariate, taking into account the transformations of the class structure and the polarisation of jobs in post industrial societies (Oesch, Redrawing the Class Map, 2006). After a brief outline of the French economic situation and of its perceptions in the public opinion, the paper analyses the political evolution of the working class, a year before the 2012 presidential election. Can one pinpoint a specific “recession effect”, or just a continuation of previous trends, namely the erosion of “class vote” or working class support for the Left, that started at the end of the 70’s (Cautrès, Mayer, 2010)? Will the recession favour political disaffection (Oskarson, 2010) or polarisation and vote for the extremes? Will it breed support for the extreme left, as in the presidential election of 2002 (Sperber, 2010) or push the working class even more towards the extreme right, as in many European countries (Kriesi et al., 2008; Oesch, 2008)? And what are the main cleavage lines inside the working class (gender, ethnicity, precariousness, sector of activity)? To give a tentative answer to these questions the paper will draw from a diversified set of survey data (CEVIPOF French National Elections Surveys 1978-2007, annual survey for the National Commission for Human Rights on racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia (1990-2011), electoral polls for the local elections of 2011, Annual Social Barometer for the DREES).


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