France is deeply fractured. Gilets jaunes are just a symptom | Christophe Guilluy

The author of a seminal account of French society charts widening cultural divisions

From the 1980s onwards, it was clear there was a price to be paid for western societies adapting to a new economic model and that price was sacrificing the European and American working class. No one thought the fallout would hit the bedrock of the lower-middle class, too. It’s obvious now, however, that the new model not only weakened the fringes of the proletariat but society as a whole.

The paradox is this is not a result of the failure of the globalised economic model but of its success. In recent decades, the French economy, like the European and US economies, has continued to create wealth. We are thus, on average, richer. The problem is at the same time unemployment, insecurity and poverty have also increased. The central question, therefore, is not whether a globalised economy is efficient, but what to do with this model when it fails to create and nurture a coherent society?

‘Workers’ no longer live in areas where employment is created, giving rise to a social and cultural shock

Related: France’s ‘gilets jaunes’ leave Macron feeling decidedly off-colour

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