Didier Lapeyronnie: "The parallel with the urban revolts of 2005 is surprising"

INTERVIEW For the sociologist, a professor at Paris-Sorbonne University, violence is inherent in a popular movement. It replaces the role played by the trade unions in a social movement.

The cross: how to explain the violence that accompanies the mobilization of "yellow jackets"?

Didier Lapeyronnie: The violence we are witnessing is explained by the very nature of the movement. "Yellow jackets" do not form a structured and structured group. The movement is not able to make solid statements, it is resentful and attacks strong symbols.

The parallel with the urban revolts of 2005 is surprising. We had a population that did not feel represented and was angry with the system. Violence was their way of being heard: "Finally we will take notice! The riot is a way of jumping into the system.

Saturday, December 8, the police are preparing for the worst

Many pacifist yellow jackets do not condemn violence …

D. L .: The inhabitants of the cities have not forgiven the revolts, but they have not even condemned them. It is necessary to recognize that violence is often a factor of success. In 2005, cities obtained the restoration of some aid. So there is also a form of rationality in the use of violence that forces the system to react.

Can we say that it plays a structuring role?

D. L .: With "yellow jackets" we have a popular or more precisely populist movement – a term that I use in a non-pejorative sense – chemically pure: appeal to the people against the betrayal of the elites, return to the past, recourse to direct sovereignty …

Yellow jackets, the ideological universe of Éric Drouet and Maxime Nicolle "Fly Rider"

Carried by the middle and popular class, it expresses a very malleable and very inconsistent ideology. In this context, violence overcomes the contradictions and weaknesses of movement, allows us to maintain unity and a logic of action.

What can be the influence of extremist groups that we see especially during the demonstrations?

D. L .: This is the first time in my life that I see the rebels waving the French flag! Violence is therefore linked to the nature of this populist movement. Most of those arrested are "veiled yellow" militia and attacks on prefectures or tax centers are probably not the work of extremists.

"Yellow jackets", who are the troubles?

But this movement is also very easy to manipulate. More than the extreme left, a part of the extreme right sails on "yellow jackets" and produces an increase in violence. In recent times we can see xenophobic and / or anti-migrant topics that were not very present at the beginning.

Does the hate expressed against President Macron surprise you?

D. L .: Also in this case, it refers to the nature of an unstructured movement, outside the institutional canons. The multiple requests that emerged from grassroots football did not lead to a program of requests.

Immediately, we moved into the symbolic dimension: the resignation of Macron, the destruction of the élite … And since this transition from very low to very high is unmanageable, violence is essential to maintain the integrity of the movement . There is no union to develop intermediate demands, and in this context violence is replacing the union.

Yellow jackets: the unions condemn violence

What is the responsibility of this form of mobilization on social networks in which violence is strong?

D. L .: The violence of social networks derives from the fact that they are not socialized! We say on the Internet things that we would never have the courage to say face to face. Basically, there are two symbols in this movement, they are Facebook and the round ones.

These two places favor mobilization, we find ourselves directly, without going through other structures. But these are also places that contain the intercommunity, especially in the ideology of the immediacy of this type of popular movement.

Taken by Bernard Gorce

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