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The “bunch of buddies” or the “clan” represent forms of primordial sociability for the lower middle class youth of rural areas. This is what results from an observation-based ethnographic fieldwork done within groups of friends consisting primarily of couples, in the context of a decline of local socialization structures. Because the sociability that takes place without households provides crucial symbolic and material resources for the perpetuation of some forms of solidarity, it brings together groups of friends, most often constituted through the channel of masculine affinities. While women are relegated to secondary roles, men seem to be in control of time and space within the household. The article shows how friendship-based household sociability reproduces a form of masculine domination that reflects power relationships within the couple as well as structural inequalities between men and women in terms of access to the labor market in these type of industrial and rural areas. This reproduction is analyzed through the observation of “apéritifs” taking place in houses partly reorganized by young couples in order to accommodate friends.

Benoît Coquard
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