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The social and geographical mobility of gay and lesbian populations has often been observed via qualitative studies or quantitative surveys of samples of volunteers. Despite the notable increase in gay and lesbian studies since the 1980s, and especially since the 1990s and 2000s in parallel with the growing legal and social recognition of same?sex couples, it has never been possible to explore this mobility within the framework of large?scale representative surveys of the general population. After explaining why such studies were impossible until now, this article uses data from the Family and Housing (Famille et logements) survey conducted in?2011 by INSEE in collaboration with INED and which, for the first time in France, allows us to address the question by looking at people living with a partner. Unlike earlier convenience surveys, which generally interviewed men only, both men and women can be studied. Compared to people in heterosexual couples, those in same?sex couples –both men and women– are much more strongly characterized by a strong investment in education and upward social mobility. The individual situations observed also reveal strong geographical mobility characterized by a pronounced distancing from family origins and a frequent attraction to large towns and cities, among men more than women. These two forms of mobility combine differently, depending on the individuals’ social origins. Social mobility is especially characteristic of men and women from the middle and working classes, and goes hand in hand with geographical mobility. Gay men from the upper classes are no different from other men from the upper classes in terms of educational trajectories, but are more frequently attracted to the Paris region, and even more so to Paris itself.


  • social mobility
  • homosexuality
  • geographical mobility
  • couples
  • quantitative survey
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