So near and yet so far from politics

The professional universe of French Socialist Party full-timers and the managerialization of politics
By Philippe Aldrin

To what extent can a political party be managed like a commercial business? This article addresses this question through a sociological study of the full-time staff of a political party, dwelling on recent challenges that have been faced by both the leaders of the French Socialist Party and its full-time employees. For almost fifteen years, business has served as the model for different modernization programs undertaken by the Socialist Party, profoundly transforming both working conditions and staff recruitment. Confronted with the effects of this managerialization process, the staff have in turn adopted the tone and tools of the traditional labor movement. Informed by nostalgia for the militant political solidarity that characterized the highpoints of Socialist Party history, their struggle reveals the staff's inability to slow down the process of depoliticization of the full-time staff of contemporary political enterprises (through the division of labor in both productive work and services, or the outsourcing of political assignments).

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