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Mobilité sociale et Empire : les gouverneurs coloniaux français entre 1830 et 1960


Chambru, Cédric; Viallet-Thévenin, Scott (2019). Mobilité sociale et Empire : les gouverneurs coloniaux français entre 1830 et 1960. Revue d'histoire moderne et contemporaine, 66-4(4):53-88.

Abstract

We analyse the social background of the administrative elite of the second French colonial empire. A new dataset of all individuals who held offices as colonial governors in Indochina, Madagascar, French Equatorial Africa, French West Africa, and Algeria between 1830 and 1960 shed new light on variations over time in the composition of this group. We compare our findings with the changing characteristics of other metropolitan administrative elites, notably the French préfets. The variations we observe can be explained by changes in the relationship between France and its colonies, in the relative attractiveness of a colonial career, and in the process of institutionalisation of the colonies. Between 1830 and 1960, colonial careers offered more opportunities for upward social mobility than administrative careers in the metropole. In particular, the creation of the French colonial administration at the turn of the twentieth century favoured individuals from modest social backgrounds or those who had pursued atypical career paths. The increased professionalization of colonial careers after the First World War led to a greater homogenization of occupational trajectories and social backgrounds of colonial governors. Nevertheless, the possibility of upward social mobility remained significant for colonial administrators, and eroded only with the upheavals of the Second World War.

Abstract

We analyse the social background of the administrative elite of the second French colonial empire. A new dataset of all individuals who held offices as colonial governors in Indochina, Madagascar, French Equatorial Africa, French West Africa, and Algeria between 1830 and 1960 shed new light on variations over time in the composition of this group. We compare our findings with the changing characteristics of other metropolitan administrative elites, notably the French préfets. The variations we observe can be explained by changes in the relationship between France and its colonies, in the relative attractiveness of a colonial career, and in the process of institutionalisation of the colonies. Between 1830 and 1960, colonial careers offered more opportunities for upward social mobility than administrative careers in the metropole. In particular, the creation of the French colonial administration at the turn of the twentieth century favoured individuals from modest social backgrounds or those who had pursued atypical career paths. The increased professionalization of colonial careers after the First World War led to a greater homogenization of occupational trajectories and social backgrounds of colonial governors. Nevertheless, the possibility of upward social mobility remained significant for colonial administrators, and eroded only with the upheavals of the Second World War.

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Additional indexing

Other titles:Social mobility inside an Empire: French colonial governors between 1830 and 1960
Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > History
Uncontrolled Keywords:France, XXe siècle, Empire colonial, mobilité sociale, élites administratives, prosopographie. France, 20th century, colonial Empire, social mobility, administrative elite, prosopography.
Language:French
Date:2019
Deposited On:06 Mar 2020 15:01
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 14:48
Publisher:Societe d'Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine
ISSN:0048-8003
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3917/rhmc.664.0053
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:19265

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