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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #273 - interview, Violaine Girard (sociologist): "In the peri-urban area, elected officials want to preserve a" entre-soi "of white people's households" (fr, it, pt) [machine translation]
Wed, 28 Jun 2017 11:49:38 +0300
Violaine Girard, a sociologist who teaches in Rouen, is the author of Le Vote FN in the
village. Based on a periurban survey, it describes the trajectories of employees in an
industrial park and seeks to understand relations with politics. ---- Alternative
libertarian: The periurban has become a media object in its own right. Can a definition be
given ? ---- Violaine Girard: The periurban is first of all a category of INSEE which aims
to measure the extent of the urbanized areas around the agglomerations, starting from the
number of active and active who live in the periurban while going to work in the cities
neighbors. What interested me, as a sociologist, is that the periurban, after having long
been associated with the middle classes installed as a single house, became during the
2000s the incarnation of white households fleeing the cities, Which would be relegated
away from the cities and acquired by the FN.
What is the difference between this image and what a qualitative analysis shows ?
Violaine Girard: This representation corresponds to only part of the social reality, since
it is true that when they manage to become owners of pavilions, households of the popular
classes are often forced to settle on the periphery of agglomerations, Where land is
cheap, not in the city centers. But this type of representation remains partial.
It is necessary to go against the accepted idea that the development of the periurban
would respond only to the will of households fleeing the suburbs. Their residential "
choices " or aspirations are in fact more often postulated than they are known, since it
is evident that they wish to leave the suburbs and their " problems ". If we go back a
little, in the 1970s, we realize that these residential trajectories are framed by a whole
series of political decisions, which have heavily weighed on the development of the periurban.
The field survey also shows that most households that settle in the outskirts have, above
all, sought greater stability by becoming owners or have wished to live in more
comfortable housing. Of course, their residential paths are subject to severe financial
constraints, but many of them benefit from State aid to home ownership.
So we can not say that they are completely abandoned by the public authorities. Moreover,
the peri-urban area is today a type of space that welcomes industrial or service jobs:
this is the case in the zones of activity that border highways on the outskirts of major
cities. Although this movement does not affect all peri-urban crowns, companies have been
established in the peri-urban areas since the 1990s. These jobs of workers, workers and
employees attracted popular households who came to live close to their workplaces.
Have you analyzed the strategy of the FN vis-à-vis these populations ? Why does the
extreme left find it difficult to find audience ?
Violaine Girard: I investigated a territory in which there is not, to my knowledge, any
activity claimed publicly by a group affiliated to the FN. This does not mean that there
are no members, but in any case, there is no structure linked to this party that is
Despite this, many voters turn to the FN in different polls. How can we explain this,
knowing moreover that this territory has been experiencing positive employment dynamics
since the 1980s ? I left the archives to study the role of local elected representatives
in this valley.
In the 1970s, an elected official close to Giscard d'Estaing launched the development of a
new zone of industrial activity, promising business leaders an " excellent social climate
", as he used it at the time. This area now has about 4,000 jobs, in logistics,
agri-food and chemicals mainly, with a strong burst of employment between a hundred
With the development of this zone, it was a question of circumventing the older industrial
establishments where there were trade union structures, as two researchers have shown in
the case of another zone , and to shape the image Of salaried.es not demanding because
acceding to the property.
The existence of these strategies, borne by the local elected representatives in support
of the employers' organizations, is not often mentioned in the explanations of the vote.
And yet, even if this does not have mechanical effects, the weakening of union structures
and the collapse of work collectives plays a role in the relation to the policy of the
wage-earners. This fuels a growing lack of interest in institutional politics and
maintains that it is not possible to make a difference.
Many of the popular employees I have met are skeptical about the practical effects of
economic measures. Mistrust of the main political leaders is a very widely shared attitude
among them. This is reflected in a number of ways during the elections: a large proportion
of the working classes of the popular classes abstain more or less frequently, one vote
more or less constantly for the candidates of the left-wing or right-wing parties, Finally
a vote National Front vote.
According to available figures, if one takes into account the non-inclusion and
abstention, today is about a worker or a working week that FN vote in France . And of
course, other social categories, such as the self-employed or management, also feed the
results of the FN.
You are talking about strategies for controlling settlement on the part of local
communities, what is it ?
Violaine Girard: Since the 1970s, the choices made in terms of housing policy at the
national level have contributed to widening the gaps between those households who can
access stable employment and become owners, and those who are the opposite Vulnerable or
living in the social housing stock.
Since the 1990s, local and regional authorities have played an increasingly important role
in the concrete implementation at local level of housing policy. Local elected officials
must follow certain national guidelines, but they are the ones who develop the programs at
the local level.
However, there is no mechanism to compel the elected representatives of small
municipalities to build social housing. This explains why peri-urban spaces correspond to
the category of space where social housing is the least present: only 6.5 % of households
, compared with 20.3 % in urban centers and 14.6 % in urban areas . French average.
In the commune where I investigated, elected officials take advantage of this lack of
legal constraints to reaffirm their desire to keep the tenants of the HLM park at bay. In
their speeches, they reject two social figures, those of the most precarious, then those
of racialized households, that is to say, assigned to a supposed ethnic origin or cultural
affiliation. And these same politicians are also trying, more informally, to preserve some
of the white people's households. To do this, they try to control information on land
available for sale or on rented housing, which is possible in a small municipality where
this information circulates a lot through word of mouth.
There are, therefore, certainly not all the periurban municipalities, but probably in a
certain number of them, attempts to control the settlement of elected representatives,
which may otherwise be without political etiquette. This shows that the FN vote is not the
only political manifestation of rejection of racialized minorities.
Beyond the cases of FN mayors elected in 2014, a number of elected representatives of
small municipalities can contribute to the trivialization of this electoral choice, when
they implement, as part of their municipal mandate, Excluding minorities. This may
contribute to explaining that the results of the FN are relatively high in some peri-urban
areas, whereas the party does not necessarily have locally-based militant structures.
Interview by Fanny (AL Paris-Nord-Est)
 Baudouin T., Collin M., The circumvention of workers' fortresses: precariousness and
syndicalism, Paris, Librairie des Méridiens, 1983.
 Lehingue P., "The Electorate" of the National Front. A return to two or three
"received ideas" , in Pelletier W. and Mauger G., in The popular classes and the FN.
Explanations of votes, Croquant editions, 2017.
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