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Urban revolts and the destructuring of the working class (France 2005)

Taking as a starting point the urban revolts that exploded in France in October-November 2005, the authors call attention to a new aspect distinguishing these events from other forms of civil protest in France during the last few decades: the involvement of 'ordinary' youths, often well placed within the educational system and integrated in the work market, but almost always in precarious and unstable situations, without chances to evolve socially. Providing primary evidence of a profound deterioration in working conditions over recent years, the authors describe a social setting that combines unemployment, precarious work and the closure of future prospects, failures in schooling and the worsening of urban segregation, alongside open forms of racism that directly affect the young children of immigrant families, in large part residents of housing estates. The question proposed by the authors is the need to locate these events within the broader setting of the destructuring of the French working class. The key question to be understood is the working condition "after the working class." The authors resume discussions found in their book Retour sur la condition ouvrière (1999), analyzing the worsening of working conditions in more recent years and noting that the signs of racism in the working class environment are both a symptom and an effect.

Urban unrest in France; Decomposition of the working class; Rupture of generations; Degradation of working conditions; Loss of working class solidarity


Departamento de Sociologia da Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas da Universidade de São Paulo Av. Prof. Luciano Gualberto, 315, 05508-010, São Paulo - SP, Brasil - São Paulo - SP - Brazil
E-mail: temposoc@edu.usp.br