The working cles, a moving category at the heart of a political and ideological battle

History of a concept. Politically, it is the martingale and even an electoral Holy Grail. The reconquest of the working cles is a political objective, a strategic question, but also an ideological challenge that is being fought over on both sides of the National embly. On the right, the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, claims to defend the “ordinary people who do not have a second home” and who have “need for security”. On the left, the “rebellious” François Ruffin has worked for many years on the social condition of the peri-urban working cles and warns of the importance of not abandoning them to nationalist parties. Thus the deputy for the Somme perceived in the analyzes of economists Julia Cagé and Thomas Piketty who, in A history of political conflict (Threshold, 864 pages, 27 euros), ert that “the reconquest of the rural popular vote” must become the “absolute priority for the social-ecological bloc”, a scientific confirmation of his empirical intuitions.

But who are the working cles? “Two criteria seem essentialreplies historian Gérard Noiriel, the level of resources and the level of studies. » that’s why “we can say that workers and employees are the main components today”, continues the author ofA popular history of France (Agone, 2018). And where do the working cles come from? Because these have not always existed under this name. Until the 1970s, in fact, social sciences and left-wing parties spoke of the “working cl” or “working cles”. However, deindustrialization has happened there. And it became difficult to use this term about employees and service workers, within populations often affected by m unemployment.

The expression “working cles” thus seemed more “adequate”recalled, in 2011, the sociologist Olivier Schwartz, since it presented the advantage of “designate the entire range of the least endowed categories of a society” : citizens with modest incomes, but also dominated by the “new capital”said Pierre Bourdieu, that, social, academic and cultural, which is implicitly transmitted in wealthy and literate families.

However, “the face of the populations that make up the working cles has changed”notes sociologist Etienne Penissat, who signs Cl (Anamosa, 109 pages, 9 euros). Home help or childminders, for example, are located “at the intersection of economic, but also racial and gender discrimination”, he observes. We often contrast the former white working cl of deindustrialized regions with the multicultural cl of city employees, rural France with that of the suburbs. However, these representations lead to “locking the working cles into identity oppositions”continues the CNRS researcher, convinced that a “intersectional cl struggle” would be able to“expand the “we” of the cl to marginalized fractions”particularly from former French colonies.

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