Activists in Suit and Tie: A socio-historical Look at the Commitment of the Student Directors of the MNEF (1973-1986)

By Camilo Argibay

This article focuses on a socio-historical analysis of the activism of the student leaders of the MNEF, a French student association in charge of social security for students. Based on archival documents, it aims to understand what kind of socialisation these leaders acquired. Firstly, the article describes the activist environment that these young leaders belonged to. To understand their activist commitment, we must grasp the changing relations between the MNEF and other student organisations and political parties in the 1970s. These student activists were involved in two interconnected areas of socialisation. On the one hand, they were socialised as “militants”, due to their involvement in broader militant movements (unions and political parties). On the other hand, they were socialised as “managers”, which was specific to the MNEF given their unique status as young company directors. By focusing on how expertise was acquired and representations were internalised, this article ultimately covers a form of “capital accumulation” as activists, a factor that helps us understand why several of these young leaders later entered politics.

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