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Demobilising the popular classes

Démobiliser les classes populaires

Desmovilizar las clases populares

Espaces et sociétés Journal

Numéro de la revue « Espaces et sociétés »

Revista « Espaces et sociétés »

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Published on Wednesday, November 20, 2019 by Céline Guilleux


Dans ce numéro d'Espaces et Sociétés, nous souhaitons analyser la dimension spatiale des obstacles et des stratégies visant à empêcher la mobilisation des classes populaires, que ce soit avant ou après que celle-ci prenne forme. La notion de démobilisation permet d’interroger de concert les pratiques qui contraignent ou empêchent l’émergence de l’action collective et les formes symboliques et matérielles visant à entraver et réprimer les mobilisations. On peut penser par exemple, d’un côté, aux stratégies de stigmatisation ou de délégitimation, aux pratiques paternalistes, clientélistes ou de cooptation ou, de l’autre, aux modes de répression, directs ou indirects, policiers ou judiciaires.



In a context where working classes are often presented as ‘drowsy’, ‘depoliticized’ or ‘alienated’, we offer to consider the symbolic, social and spatial constraints they face, which can explain the invisibility or infrequency of their mobilizations. By popular mobilizations, we mean the collective mobilizations brought on by working classes (Siblot et al., 2015), that is, the mobilizations carried by “groups which are characterized by the combination of a dominated social position and forms of cultural separation” (Schwartz, 2011) and rooted in different geographical contexts worldwide.

In this special issue, we seek to analyze the spatial dimension of the obstacles and strategies aiming at preventing the mobilization of working classes before or after it arises. The notion of demobilization allows to examine simultaneously the practices that constrain or prevent the emergence of collective action and the symbolic and material forms of obstruction and repression of mobilization (Talpin, 2016). This could include stigmatization or delegitimization strategies (Mohammed, 2018), paternalistic, demagogic or cooption practices (Auyero, 2005 ; Mattina, 2016), as well as direct or indirect modalities of police or legal repression (Codaccioni, 2019).

The purpose of this special issue is to call for further reflection on spatial social relationships (Sauvadet, Bacqué, 2011), or on the spatial dimension of social relationships (Veschambre, Ripoll, 2005 ; Backouche et al., 2011), and, more precisely, on the spatial dimension of collective mobilizations (Ripoll, 2008 ; Hhmed, 2009 ; Combe, Garibay, Goirand, 2015). The aim is to question the spatial dimension of strategies and modalities of demobilization, in different socio-spatial contexts, different political regimes, both local and national, and in relation to various working classes segments, according to age, gender, origin, nationality or a particular position in the labor market. The actors of the demobilization themselves are diverse: they can be in a dominant position in relation to the working classes, they can be public or private actors, and they can operate at different scales.

The contributions can focus on any kind of local or national context, or on any kind of political regime, and they can adopt various methodological approaches. Special attention will be given to contributions with a comparative approach aiming at contrasting different forms of demobilization. The authors are invited to explore one or several of the following aspects:

  • The strategic uses of space in demobilization processes. Studies on social movements have emphasized that space could represent a resource for mobilization. Yet, we can also explore the reverse side of this process: how is the maintenance of order, as it allows or prevents collective gatherings, thought through space? Whereas access to dedicated spaces represents a key factor in collective dynamics, what kind of strategies are also implemented to control them? How are urban renovation and social diversity policies, or actions for the pacification and securing of informal settlement, used as demobilization tools in the dispersal of working classes when they are thought as dangerous (Kipfer, 2015)
  • The spatial dimension of demobilization. Whereas space can be used as an instrument for demobilization, we also aim to examine the forms that demobilization can take in space, even when it is not always used deliberately for demobilizing processes. How can space become an issue in struggles (such as protests against factory closures or police brutality) that do not necessarily deal directly with spatial issues?
  • The scales of demobilization. How does the scale of a mobilization shape the forms of repression? Are national movements tackled differently than local mobilizations? Similarly, can we identify variations in the modalities of demobilization, between local institutions’ and State’s practices, or between head offices, local branches and companies that have been relocated? Can contradictions and divides between demobilizing policies implemented by actors located at different levels inform the future of mobilizations?
  • The variability of demobilizing practices according to socio-spatial contexts. Are all spaces and actors affected in the same way by demobilizing practices? To what extent do the characteristics (in terms of density, social composition, mobility between different areas, etc.) of different spaces, whether they be social housing, slums, historical centers, or rural areas, affect strategies for protests annihilation (for example, in preventing or constraining people’s circulation and meetings, or in dividing them)? Are racialized populations treated differently by public or private authorities? How does social, urban or political history affect governmental strategies and how does it explain the differences that can be observed at both national and subnational levels? We will also examine the effects that the causes of mobilization can have on the responses that are given to them. Are spatial issues-related social movements (such as movements associated with the right to the city for all, urban renovation, housing or urbanism) addressed differently than other forms of mobilization?
  • Responding to demobilization. This special issue will also pay attention to the effects that demobilization can have on the actors of the protests. How are they impacted? How do they respond to it? Does it affect their repertoires of action? Do they respond by moving to other spaces? Or do they seek refuge in the domestic sphere when they have faced violence in the public space? Special attention will be given to detailed and longitudinal studies on the historical and spatial evolution of people’s trajectories.

Planning and submission process

1st may 2020: Deadline for article submissions

15 june 2020: information on the submission outcome

The journal considers only completed articles. Articles must be comprised of between 35 000 and 42 000 characters (characters spaces included), including texts, notes, bibliographical references and appendices, but not abstracts (French, English, Spanish).

Detailed guidelines and norms of presentation for submission are available here: https://www.editionseres.com/uploads/documents/conditionsPublication/201906112815eas_normes-editoriales-a-consignes-auteurs_07.11.18_diffusion.pdf

Address for submissions is (in digital format only) :

  • virginie.baby-collin@univ-amu.fr
  • anne.clerval@univ-paris-est.fr
  • julien.talpin@univ-lille.fr

Scientific coordinators

  • Virginie Baby-Collin
  • Anne Clerval
  • Julien Talpin


  • AUYERO, Javier, 2005, « L’espace des luttes. Topographie des mobilisations collectives », Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, vol. 160, no 5, p. 122-132.
  • BACKOUCHE Isabelle, RIPOLL Fabrice, TISSOT Sylvie et VESCHAMBRE Vincent, éd., 2011, La Dimension spatiale des inégalités. Regards croisés des sciences sociales, Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, coll. « Géographie sociale ».
  • CODACCIONI Vanessa, 2019, Répression, Paris, Textuel.
  • COMBES Hélène, GARIBAY David, GOIRAND Camille, ed., 2015, Les lieux de la colère. Occuper l’espace pour contester, Paris, Karthala.
  • HMED Choukri, 2008, « Des mouvements sociaux sur une tête d’épingle ? Le rôle de l’espace physique dans le processus contestataire à partir de l’exemple des mobilisations dans les foyers de travailleurs migrant », Politix, vol. 84, no 4, p. 145-161.
  • KIPFER Stefan, 2015, « Démolition et contre-révolution : la rénovation urbaine dans la région parisienne », revue Période [En ligne], 5 octobre, [URL : http://revueperiode.net/demolition-et-contre-revolution-la-renovation-urbaine-dans-la-region-parisienne/]
  • MOHAMMED, Marwan, 2018, « Stigmatiser pour ‘mieux’ gouverner la ville. Accusation de ‘communautarisme’ et répression politique à l’échelle locale », in M. Mohammed, J. Talpin, éd., Communautarisme ? Paris, PUF, p. 69-83.
  • RIPOLL Fabrice, 2008, « Espaces et stratégies de résistance : répertoires d’action collective dans la France contemporaine », Espaces et Sociétés, vol. 134, no 3, p. 83-97.
  • SAUVADET Thomas, BACQUE Marie-Hélène, éd., 2011, « Usages populaires de l’espace », Espaces et Sociétés, n°144-145.
  • SCHWARTZ Olivier, 2011, « Peut-on parler des classes populaires ? », La vie des idées, 13 septembre : http://www.laviedesidees.fr/Peut-on-parler-des-classes.html.
  • SIBLOT Yasmine, RENAHY Nicolas, CARTIER Marie, COUTANT Isabelle et MASCLET Olivier, 2015, Sociologie des classes populaires contemporaines, Paris, Armand Colin (Collection U).
  • TALPIN Julien, 2016, « Une répression à bas bruit. Comment les élus étouffent les mobilisations dans les quartiers populaires », Métropolitiques [En ligne], [URL : https://www.metropolitiques.eu/Une-repression-a-bas-bruit-Comment-les-elus-etouffent-les-mobilisations-dans.html].
  • VESCHAMBRE Vincent et RIPOLL Fabrice, éd., 2005, dossier « L’appropriation de l’espace. Sur la dimension spatiale des inégalités sociales et des rapports de pouvoir », Norois, no 195.


  • Friday, May 01, 2020


  • mouvement social, classe populaire, démobilisation, espace social, espace politique


  • Virginie Baby-Collin
    courriel : virginie [dot] baby-collin [at] univ-amu [dot] fr
  • Julien Talpin
    courriel : julien [dot] talpin [at] univ-lille [dot] fr
  • Anne Clerval
    courriel : anne [dot] clerval [at] univ-paris-est [dot] fr

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Virginie Baby-Collin
    courriel : virginie [dot] baby-collin [at] univ-amu [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Demobilising the popular classes », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, November 20, 2019, https://calenda.org/705817

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