Roots, sociability and rural identity in during industrialisation (Ivry, 19th century)

Rural identities?
By Fabrice Boudjaaba

This paper examines the way in which rural populations, considered to be rooted in one place, understand the transformation of their village into an industrial suburb during the 19th century; it is based on the case of the town of Ivry, south of Paris, from the end of the 18th century to the 1860s. After noting that social historians of the suburbs have lacked interest in the populations of these rural areas before their transformation into industrial towns, the paper defines the notion of rootedness and the method for measuring it. Then, it examines the social relations of the most “rooted” inhabitants in these areas in terms of sociability practices and forms of investment in the town’s community life. The research is based on two main indicators: the choice of wedding witnesses, on the one hand, and inhabitants’ membership in local associations (brotherhoods), on the other. It highlights the existence of “social enclave” strategies among individuals from the “old peasant families”, which continued to structure social life within this changing territory, well past the time when Ivry had become a town.

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