The Restructuring of the Perrier Factory or When Two “Business Cultures” Confront One Another (1990–2000)

By Irène Favier

During the 1990s, a number of restructuring plans were carried out at the Source Perrier, a factory located in southern France, after it had been bought out by the Nestlé group. This had an important social and cultural impact. The site was reorganized, a thousand jobs were cut, and management principles were revised. All these changes called into question professional relationships at the workplace, as well as how, since the end of World War II, power had been divided between the board of directors and the main local union, the CGT-Perrier. By focusing on the social and cultural dimension of the changes that occurred at this company, this article aims to reveal exactly what was at stake in the restructuring of power, in the Foucaultian sense of that word. To do so, the article highlights three main trends which emerged during the 1990s, and which played a large part in the new order progressively implemented in the factory: the forms taken by the restructuring itself, the growing influence of the law on relationships between social agents, and the mobilization of memory as a means to carry on social struggles.


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