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Nearby and the Nest: A Sense of “Homeness” Among Rural Working-Class Youth

Clément Reversé

Research framework: While popular rural spaces have long been defined by the indigenous relationship of the ties of inter-acquaintance that could be played out on the scale of the commune, or « the corner », today’s popular and rural youth are faced with a fragmentation of the ties of sociability as well as the narrowing of the sense of belonging around the parental home.

Objective: This article seeks to understand how the sense of belonging to a space – a home – crystallizes for a population of working-class rural youths who are faced with fragmentation and casualization of low-skilled rural employment, as well as generational tensions that turn them away from the public space.

Methodology: To do this, we will rely on a survey conducted in New Aquitaine on the transition to adulthood of working-class rural youth. Based on the sociology of experience, this survey includes 100 semi-structured interviews with these young people as well as 24 interviews with people responsible for their professional integration and educational pathways.

Results: This article highlights how the fragmentation and precariousness of low-skilled employment have decentered the sociabilities of working-class rural youth from their commune of origin, and weakened the relationship between social proximity and spatial proximity in these spaces. In addition, this article focuses on the move of these young people from an inherited rural and popular culture to a youthful, urban and middle-class culture whose codes and values they share.

Conclusion: This generational gap is a source of tension, even stigmatization, which turns these young people away from the public space (the corner) and polarizes the feeling of home around the parental home (the cocoon).

Contribution: Our work allows us to highlight the impact of the recent mutations of the popular rural spaces on the feeling of « home » during the period of individualization that youth represents.