A selective feeling of belonging in the French working classBy Benoît Coquard
This article analyzes the context and clout of a colloquial expression heard during the study of a rural working-class setting. Among 25- to 35-year-old subjects, “Déjà nous”—“us before them” or “just us”—means prioritizing those considered to be “true friends,” and with whom one stands in solidarity in the face of common opposition. This expression is a reaffirming one, as it reflects an enduring feeling of belonging to a group. It is typically used by the stable fractions of the working-class youth that we encountered, and it implies that there is a necessary selectivity in such solidarity, binding the group together against the wider local community members. “Déjà nous” expresses a sharp awareness of local antagonisms and competition (particularly in the local job market) that permeate the working classes in contexts in which strong affinities with the extreme right are most notable. The article examines the connections between a “déjà nous” consciousness and the penchant for this type of political position.