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Proceeding by a statistical analysis of nationally representative survey data, this article examines the distance that working-class couples maintain from other social classes as a means of characterizing their diversity and dynamics. The article sets out by identifying seven different “family social environments”. Based on the socioprofessional position of six close family members of the ego, these environments allow for predicting the situation of the surveyed couples’ siblings. The article also shows that these environments hinge on novel types of cleavages within the French system of socioprofessional classification –between industrial and artisanal activities; between the domestic universe and those of offices, shops or fields– and thus suggests a need to go beyond the traditional oppositions between blue and white collar employees and between skilled and unskilled labour in order to better describe the diversity of working-class households. Although not pertaining to a hierarchical order per se, these environments can be placed on a continuum between opposing poles, from the most precarious to the wealthiest, from the decidedly working-class to those closest to the middle classes. Set against the backdrop of the observation of the operation of social openness through conjugal alliances in working class couples between 1993 and 2014-2015, the stable nature of the configuration of these “environments” leads to consider them as a potential tool in exploring other data sets in the future.

  • Working-classes
  • family social environment
  • socio-professional classification
  • social openness
Uploaded on Cairn-int.info on 30/11/-0001
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