CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

Based on field research conducted in a rural area of France, this article analyzes the situation of railway workers from farming families. Going against the frequent tendency to lump departure from farming together with rural exodus, this article envisages a departure from farming without a (significant) geographical move and sheds light on the interdependence between farmers and workers in the same geographical space. Analyzing the trajectories of railway workers from farming backgrounds reveals the composite facet of rural working-class socialization, which is marked by tensions between family farming legacies and forms of sociability among industrial workers. After providing a socio-historical background on the processes of mobility between agriculture and industry, the article analyzes how proximity with the farming world feeds into reputation issues and particular strategies in a workshop of the SNCF (the French national train network) and in its union, the CGT. The case study that follows aims to tease out the socialization process, as worker and as activist, of a “farmer-railway man” who joined the union.

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