The Role of Immigration in the Making/Unmaking of the French Working Class (Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries)
Immigration has been at the heart of political debates in France since the 1970s. However, following the election as president of the socialist François Mitterrand in 1981, the right and the far-right took ownership of the immigration ‘problem’ in France. They attracted substantial working-class support by exploiting xenophobic themes. This laid bare the fault lines, related to nationality or ethnicity, that run through the French working class. This chapter describes the central role of migration in the formation of the working class in France. It shows how the past can inform our understanding of social exclusion and cast new light on the phenomenon of urban violence.