Two Ages of Worker Emigration

Migration and Non-Migration in an Industrial Village
By Nicolas Renahy, Cécile Détang-Dessendre, Séverine Gojard, Paul Belle


Based on the study of a cohort of individuals born between 1939 and 1946 enumerated in an industrial village in eastern France in the 1954 census, this article presents a model of working-class non-migration. The integration of unskilled workers is shown to proceed by marriage with local-born women, followed by the local social reproduction of worker status by first-born sons. A labour aristocracy thus emerges, through kinship mechanisms that correspond to a given state of the labour market.
This result is obtained by combining an ethnographic survey (reconstruction of the trajectories of lines of descent in space and in an employment system) and statistical analysis (MCA and failure-time models). The same operation conducted on a cohort of individuals born in the 1960s indicates that the model no longer functions. As a result of the local unemployment crisis, the local origins that were the key to access to the local labour market in the 1960s become an incentive to migration in the 1980s.

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