CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

How do domestic spaces and the gender norms that are played out through them contribute to defining the class position of both individuals and subgroups within the lower middle classes? A monographic work conducted between 2008 and 2012 in a suburban residential area in Isère suggests that the dynamics of gendered social relations represents a crucial factor in the daily perception and the classification of the social world, beyond socio-economic differences materialized in housing and domestic décor. The resistances to the gendered order imposed by the new forms of domestic labor provide the basis for the micro-hierarchies of local space. They oppose three groups of women in relation to employment: young women living in social housing who have gradually renounced waged activity in low-qualified jobs of the service industry in favor of domestic work; local workers who have odd shifts and can thus cope with domestic labor in alternation with their partner; better-educated young women who find “office” jobs in the neighboring city. Mostly absent from the residential area during the day, the members of this latter group occupy the top position in the local social hierarchy and embody a norm of emancipation.

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