CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

The 1970’s, in France, is the golden age of struggles. In factories, notably, the decade, marked by the densification of conflicts, invents new ways to go on strike, mixing traditional ways with “open doors” days, sits-in, media-covered visits to occupied factories, concerts or even sports competitions. These operations, intended to make an event of the strike, bear witness of a true event-making approach to collective action, determined to have control over the representations if the conflict, in order to gain sympathy and support from the public opinion. The long metallurgists strike in the Rateau factory in La Courneuve (January-April 1974), is a good laboratory for research. The archives of the conflict reflect the strikers’ determination to get media coverage for their struggle. Inside and outside the factory, they appeal to the people’s capacity for indignation; they multiply public “performances”: street demonstrations, of course, but also press conferences, exhibitions, a football match and a support concert. Aware that something must always be happening, they strive to advertise the strike and to give value to it on the media market. The Rateau strike challenges the historian to study an activist culture of the event; it also draws the outlines of a historical sequence that sees the notion of event making assert itself as a privileged mode of organisation of society.

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