“The bosses think for us”: Rural notability and the political exclusion of laborers

Special report. Local power and the working classes in rural settings
By Julian Mischi

The laborers’ marginalization in local politics occurs in the country as well as in major cities, but it takes singular forms in rural areas due to greater social and spatial proximity between classes. This article analyzes the mechanisms excluding workers from municipal power in an industrial town using a systematic study of municipal elections from 1945 to 2020, which makes it possible to objectify and contextualize the social logics governing the recruitment of local political figures. The local bourgeoisie’s strategies of reproduction and distinction operate through the municipal scene, where entrepreneurial capital is transposed into political capital. Analysis starts with the candidates who are laborers and their difficulties in breaking in to the town political space, then explores the logics behind the concentration of municipal power in the hands of a social elite, and concludes with how economic entrepreneurs secure their political authority. The political exclusion of the working classes is not simply the outcome of internal processes; it also comes from the actions of social elites, notably the display of personalized relationships of dependency by major business owners and elected officials.

  • laborers
  • local power
  • notability
  • employers
  • town
  • rural areas
  • municipal council
Go to the article on Cairn-int.info