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Staying or Leaving: The Role of Close Support in the Residential Experiences of Working-Class Youth

Laurence Faure-Rouesnel, Éliane Le Dantec

Within contemporary society ‘mobility’ has been upgraded to the point where it is a cardinal quality, while ‘anchorage’ simply refers to the negative concept of a lack of dynamism. However, the pathways taken by the young working-class people we have interviewed, make it quite clear that such mobility does not constitute a more positive individual and social stance than that of anchorage. Unlike ‘anchored’ young people, those who are ‘mobile’ are more likely to have broken up with their families and, due to the fact that they have no close support to rely on, their mobile practices result more from constraints than from structured, prepared choices. At the other extreme, young people from the working classes who extend their stay at home with their parents, are able to take advantage of family solidarity, which allows them, rather than achieving economic and residential independence through entry into some stable professional activity, to wait out their time, while enjoying material and emotional stability. This article also stresses the ambivalent nature both of mobility practices and of territorial anchorage.