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Legris Samuel

PhD student in sociology, Université de Pau et des pays de l'Adour

Contact: samuel.legris(at)

Dissertation title: A sociology of contemporary popular movements: the anti-pass mobilizations in France

Dissertation under the direction of Stéphanie Dechezelles (Tree) and Jeremy Ward

In the wake of the Yellow Vests movement, anti-pass mobilizations (health then vaccination) punctuate French news every Saturday since 17 July 2021. Few works in the social sciences have however been dedicated to them to date. In order to fill this gap, this thesis project aims to shed light on the blind spots of contemporary popular movements by taking anti-pass mobilizations as its object of study. These disputes which born largely apart from trade union and partisan structures bring together a heterogeneous public, a substantial fraction of which belongs to the working classes. We will try to understand the conditions under which emerge and then tend to persist contemporary popular movements in France. For this, we will place ourselves at the crossroads of the sociology of social movements and that of the popular classes. We will pay particular attention to the scientific literature devoted to yellow vests, often itself at the intersection of these two sub-fields. Two main lines of research will guide our structured research around the issues of composition of and in the anti-pass movement. The composition of the movement refers to the identity of the actors of the anti-pass mobilizations while the composition in the movement refers to alliances and internal conflicts. On the one hand, we will ask ourselves who is making up the movement. More specifically, we will examine what brings together and distinguishes the opponents of the health policy of 2021-2022 from the Yellow Vests of 2018-2019. In doing so, we will reflect on the relevance of bringing together the uprising of the Yellow Vests and the anti-pass protest under the expression “contemporary popular movements”. On the other hand, we will consider the dissensions and internal tensions as well as the convergences and coalitions that are forged within the anti-pass movement. In other words, we will study how the actors of the protest try to compose despite their differences and if they achieve it. This research aims in particular to grasp the rapprochements that take place between components of the radical left and the radical right in the context of mobilization. More broadly, we aspire to understand the intellectual and ideological foundations of the different branches of the anti-pass movement. Because the composition in the movement and that of the movement are intimately linked, we will specifically observe the implantation of conspiratorial theses within the protest as well as the effects of their diffusion on the composition of the mobilizations. Our study will be based on a comparative analysis of the anti-pass movement in Indre and Pyrénées-Atlantiques. On the one hand, we will carry out two ethnographic surveys by adopting a qualitative approach (participant observation in the demonstrations, realization of semi-structured interviews with actors of the movement). On the other hand, we will extract data from digital social networks (Facebook, Messenger, Telegram) on which the movement is organized at the local level through exchanges between its various actors. At the same time, we will collect digital data on the official sites of political parties, unions and associations that have spoken out on the mobilizations against political and health measures in order to study the way in which this movement is coordinated beyond local levels.

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