French Far-Left Service Workers in the 1970s: From “White Collars” to Proletarianization

By Alix Ducamp

Soon after May 1968 and the most important strike in the whole history of the French working class, the French communists and the extreme left focused on campaigning in favor of the working class. The concept of wage earners being proletarianized thus appeared as a result of the social and economic evolutions of the last decades. Indeed, the leftists agreed on taking the workers from the service sector into account for their propaganda so far as they would share the same social and economic conditions as the lower classes. The homogeneous aspect of the working-class was thus slightly challenged. Yet, the situation changed during the seventies. A great strike launched by bank clerks broke out, along with other important social actions. This caused new theories to be created within the extreme left aiming at integrating the workers of the service sector in their strategies. However, the new policy of the leftists towards such workers remained a subject of controversy. There was an inner struggle which divided the extreme left between theories inherited from the nineteenth century, the major crisis of May 1968, and the economic evolution of the postwar decades.


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