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Anthropology of Europe
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The France of the Little-Middles
A Suburban Housing Development in Greater Paris
Marie Cartier, Isabelle Coutant, Olivier Masclet, and Yasmine Siblot
Translated by Juliette Rogers
224 pages, 9 illus., bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-78533-228-9 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (August 2016)
ISBN 978-1-78920-520-6 $29.95/£23.95 Pb Published (July 2019)
eISBN 978-1-78533-229-6 eBook
CHOICE OUTSTANDING ACADEMIC TITLE 2017
“This splendid and nuanced volume provides long-needed corrections to images from literature, cinema, news, and social science that have reduced Parisian suburbs to a dystopian vision of crime-ridden towers and despairing immigrants… Given the rich, careful data, the complex analyses, and the sensitive evocations of families divided by place, decisions, and success, this book should stimulate vastly enriched, comparative examinations of metropolitan Paris in its global context. It is also a provocative read about class, place, education, aspiration, and anxiety for social scientists and citizens worldwide …Essential.” • Choice
“Cartier et al.’s research is an important contribution to the anthropology of identity, as well as of the ways to protect it, in relation to alterity (which fluctuates between tolerance and stigmatization), and the possible ways of combating its prejudices. In other words, we strongly recommend the reading of these rich analyses to teachers, researchers, and students in different disciplines, such as anthropology, sociology, geography, and political sciences.” • JRAI (Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute)
“Cartier, Coutant, Masclet, and Siblot have produced an important book. Their analysis not only shines light on an understudied swath of contemporary French society, but it also engages larger questions concerning how individuals understand, experience, and negotiate social stratification today in relation to where they live… Theoretically sophisticated, the book is also highly readable (translator Juliette Radcliffe Rogers did an excellent job). This makes it suitable for both graduate and undergraduate courses. More broadly, it should appeal to anyone interested in urban ethnography, urban development and sociality, immigration studies, the sociology of stratification, or the sociology of voting behavior. In short, this is a well-researched, persuasive work that engages productively with many different fields.” • French Politics, Culture and Society
“[The volume] shows the value of investigating middle-class Western neighborhoods and especially of the historical changes in such sites. The study is a contribution to the anthropology of Europe as well as to urban anthropology and to the anthropology of class, and it usefully complicates and even debunks some preconceptions about suburban life, immigration, class, and politics.” • Anthropology Review Database
The Poplars housing development in suburban Paris is home to what one resident called the “Little-Middles” – a social group on the tenuous border between the working- and middle- classes. In the 1960s The Poplars was a site of upward social mobility, which fostered an egalitarian sense of community among residents. This feeling of collective flourishing was challenged when some residents moved away, selling their homes to a new generation of upwardly mobile neighbors from predominantly immigrant backgrounds. This volume explores the strained reception of these migrants, arguing that this is less a product of racism and xenophobia than of anxiety about social class and the loss of a sense of community that reigned before.
Marie Cartier is Professor of Sociology at the University of Nantes, researcher at CENS (Nantes Sociology Center, CNRS-University of Nantes). She is a former Junior Member of the Institut Universitaire de France. She combines ethnography and history to study the transformations of the working-class through employment and living spaces.
Isabelle Coutant is Researcher at CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research), based at IRIS (Interdisciplinary Research Institute on Social Issues). Her research concerns how working-class people relate to institutions and urban ethnography.
Olivier Masclet is Associate Professor at the University of Paris Descartes Sorbonne Paris Cité and a researcher at the Center for Research on Social Connections since 2006. His research focuses on the cultural dimensions of class differentiation and contemporary working-class lifestyles.
Yasmine Siblot is Professor of Sociology at the University of Paris 8, and is member of the research center CRESPPA-CSU (Urban Societies and Cultures) (CNRS-University of Paris 8). Her research interests lie in social class, political sociology and migration studies.