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Renouncing the left: working-class conservatism in France, 1930-­1939

Starkey, Joseph 2014. Renouncing the left: working-class conservatism in France, 1930-­1939. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Histories of the working class in France have largely ignored the existence of working-­‐class conservatism. This is particularly true of histories of the interwar period. Yet, there were an array of Catholic and right-­‐wing groups during these years that endeavoured to bring workers within their orbit.Moreover,many workers judged that their interests were better served by these groups.This thesis explores the participation of workers in Catholic and right-­‐wing groups during the 1930s. What did these groups claim to offer workers within the wider context of their ideological goals? In which ways did conservative workers understand and express their interests, and why did they identify the supposed ‘enemies of the left’ as the best means of defending them? What was the daily experience of conservative workers like, and how did this experience contribute to the formation of‘non-­‐left’political identities? These questions are addressed in a study of the largest Catholic and right-­‐wing groups in France during the 1930s. This thesis argues that, during a period of left-­‐wing ascendancy, these groups made the recruitment of workers a top priority. To this end, they harnessed particular elements of mass political culture and adapted them to their own ideological ends. However, the ideology of these groups did not simply reflect the interests of the workers that supported them. This thesis argues that the interests of conservative workers were a rational and complex product of their own experience. They were formed by a large range of materials, from preconceived attitudes to issues such as gender and race, to the everyday experience of bullying and intimidation on the factory floor. This thesis shows that workers could conceive of their interests in a number of different ways,and chose from a range of different groups to try and further them.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > DC France
Funders: AHRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2017 14:10

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