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The France of the Little-Middles: A Suburban Housing Development in Greater Paris

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Volume 1

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 $110.00/£78.00 Hb Published (August 2016)

eISBN 978-1-78533-229-6 eBook

Hb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Buy the ebook from these vendors



“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

“[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 Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Nantes, Researcher at CENS (Nantes Sociology Center, CNRS-University of Nantes), and Junior Member of the Institut Universitaire de France since 2010. She uses ethnographic methods to study the working-class through the lenses of 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 working-class relationships with institutions.

Olivier Masclet is Associate Professor at 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 today 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 and political sociology.

Subject: Sociology General Anthropology Urban Studies
Area: France


Illustrations, Tables, and Maps


Chapter 1. The “Good Old Days”
Chapter 2. Children of the projects in quest of respectability
Chapter 3. Suburban Youth
Chapter 4. “They’re very nice, but…”: Encountering new foreign neighbors
Chapter 5. A vote of the white lower classes?

Appendix I: Interviews cited in the book
Appendix II: Documents and sources


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