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	The France of the Little-Middles

The France of the Little-Middles

A Suburban Housing Development in Greater Paris

Marie Cartier , Isabelle Coutant , Olivier Masclet , Yasmine Siblot
Trad. Juliette Rogers
Berghahn Books, Anthropology of Europe ,   [2019],  224 p.

(réédition en format broché de l’édition format relié de 2016)

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.

Translated by Juliette Rogers

  • 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.


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

“[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


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




ISBN : 978-1-78920-520-6
Fiche éditeur :

The France of the Little-Middles

A Suburban Housing Development in Greater Paris

Sorbonne Paris Nord

Bâtiment Recherche Sud
5 cours des Humanités
93322 Aubervilliers cedex

UFR SMBH 74 rue Marcel Cachin, 93017 Bobigny cedex



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