Thursday, February 17, 2022



Based on “Quelle coalition face au bloc bourgeois?” By Pierre Rimbert, Monde Diplomatique, February 2022

Rimbert points out that a major transformation of French society has been largely ignored. Within the last 50 years the working classes have become in the majority, women. In 1970 38% of women were workers and the same percent were actively involved in the economy. (As workers, owners, petty bourgeois etc)

By 2020 48.5% of these “actives” and 52% of the working classes were women. In 1970 women aged 25-59 made up 50% of the actives compared to 95% of the men. Today 82% of women are actives and 91.9 % of the men.

As for the class structure of France, some 20% of the active population are bourgeois, petty bourgeois and managerial class. Almost half of the actives are blue collars of which 80% are male. Of the lower wage, less educated white collars 75% are women. Of the 10% of the actives who are educated white collar workers (teachers, nurses, techs etc) these are in the majority women.

Over the last 25 or more years the French economy has undergone a transformation. A loss of blue collar employment and many white collar office workers, bank clerks etc. There has been a host of new “care” jobs such as child care, aides in old age homes, hospital and teaching auxiliaries, cleaners, etc. There is a second, pre-existing group of government employees, nurses, teachers and technicians. (the latter three professions have also expanded.) The two groups make up 60% of white collar workers and are overwhelmingly women. People have also commented on how the gilet jaune movement had a large number of women from both groups of white collar workers.

The “care” section is also where one finds a great number of immigrant workers. It should be noted that the female workers suffer from much greater precarity than men, have lower wages, are shunted into part time without benefits, etc.

At the same time the Covid lock downs have made everyone aware of how important these care jobs and other essential services, are – which are mainly staffed by women.

Rimbert believes that for the left to reconquer lost ground, it must focus on these women workers, especially of the essential services. The French left (and by extension elsewhere, since these developments are not unique to France) should focus more on this growing sector of the class and less upon its dying sector.

There has been a fair amount of moaning among the Anglosphere left about “where is the working class and why don't they like us anymore?” (by which they seem to mean blue collars.) Well, Jacobin and Tribune, put away your hankies – here is your working class!


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