Migration, Career Inequalities, and Workers Mobility: The Case of Moroccan Miners in the Coal Recession (France, 1945-1990)

Anton Perdoncin, ERC Lubartworld, EHESS

Throughout the twentieth century, working classes were divided between stable and precarious, women and men, skilled and unskilled, immigrants and non-immigrants. During the economic crisis of the 1970s and 1980s, these divisions according to gender, qualification, nationality and racial assignments became more pronounced. They defined the coordinates of the “crisis of reproduction” of the working class, as they activated ancient tendencies precipitated by the magnitude of de-industrialization and of the fall in the number of workers. This destabilization of the workers' worlds, associated with an individualization of the modes of management of workers' careers, generates a context of uncertainty which transforms the conditions in which professional mobility is possible, desired or, on the contrary, avoided. Workers' occupational mobility then appear as a place for observing the internal stratification of dominated groups, particularly at times when career inequalities between immigrant and non-immigrant workers are linked to an economic recession that strongly modifies career horizons. This paper explores the relationship between labor migrations, career inequalities, professional mobility and economic recession, based on the observation and on the quantitative analysis of the careers of Moroccan coal miners in France, from the creation of the coal mining public companies in 1946 to their definitive closure in December 1990. To do so, this paper relies on original historical prosopographic data, built from a sample of coal miners career files. We will combine event history and optimal matching analysis in order to describe career patterns, and link them to social and professional characteristics of workers, and to the economic dynamics of coal mining recession.

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 Presented in Session 210. Labor Migration and Technologies of Management