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Being a Family with Internet: A Survey among Working Classes Mothers

Bénédicte Havard Duclos, Dominique Pasquier

Research Framework: Over the past ten years or so in France, households headed by blue collars and employees have caught up on their delay in connecting to the Internet at home.

Objectives: Has the integration of the Internet in these households been carried out in the same way as in households of executives and intermediate professions who equipped themselves earlier? Does it have the same meaning? What transformations does the arrival of the Internet bring about in the domestic context and in family dynamics?

Methodology: This article is based on a semi-directive interview survey (N=41) of mothers working in the personal services sector and living outside large urban areas in France.

Results: The survey shows a significant tension. On the one hand, the mothers we met are convinced that the Internet is a guarantee of better academic and professional success for their children, which generates a real « duty of connection » in the name of modernity and social conformity. On the other hand, they note that the tool is time-consuming and disrupts family life both in the couple’s relationships and between parents and children. Without regulatory model coming from the previous generation, they tinker with daily tactics to limit the potential for individualization of tools by establishing a principle of transparency of practices and encouraging co-attending uses.

Conclusions: The regulation of the Internet in this stable fraction of the working classes is a model that is being sought and remains based on trial and error and compromise. However, the priority given to family ties seems to be a major issue in arbitration: discourses continue to value the family « we » with great consistency, expressing, if not a reality, at least a strong aspiration.

Contribution: This research highlights the specificities of family Internet regulation methods in the stable fractions of the working classes. It is also interested in couple’s regulations, which are rarely studied in the existing literature.