Politicization of the Peri-urban Working Class

Special Report: Working-Class Homeownership
Promotion and Rewards of Social Affiliation vis-à-vis the Left
By Violaine Girard

A growing portion of industrial workers or employees are living nowadays in France’s peri-urban areas. These popular households are generally described as victims of a social or spatial “relegation.” They are also supposed to be largely right-leaning, and often have converted to supporters of the FN (National Front, the main Far-Right party in France). Based on an ethnographic investigation conducted in a peri-urban industrial area, this article aims at discussing these patterns. The popular inhabitants belong to the stable fractions of the working class and express aspirations for social advancement: most of them own their homes. Some of them, with professional qualifications, manage to achieve relatively secure positions, and even supervisory roles or technical jobs. Their voting practices are indeed linked to their social tendencies. Faced with massive reorganization of forms of employment, these working-class voters value forms of economic stabilization rather than accessing distinctive cultural or educational resources. The long-term effects of work reorganization policies become apparent: this evolution causes industrial workers to drift away from left-wing parties.

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