Promoted to the Premier League

French Professional Football Club Presidents’ Trajectories of Rising Notability (1960-1999)
By Manuel Schotté

Composed primarily of regional business leaders, the population of French professional football club presidents is particularly rich for sociological study. Coming from modest families and typified by lower educational levels, these men escape the most common modes of elite social (re)production. While access to dominant positions was overwhelmingly determined by the educational system and/or family legacies in France in the latter half of the twentieth century, they represent an atypical population characterized by the originality of the path its members took to achieve an eminent position. While the literature has thus far focused on cases of social mobility through education, this article highlights another, very different modality of ascension based on other advantages and other circuits of legitimation. By showing that these rising businessmen’s access to national visibility results from a long trajectory of increasing notability with strong local rootedness, the article aims to both give an account of little-studied forms of social mobility and provide some elements for characterizing a group that has been overlooked in the literature: the business petite-bourgeoisie.

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