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Elites, middle classes and cities


The chapter presents the preliminary results of explorative research considering the making of a European society as the building of new social networks and practices among European higher social status-groups – in particular upper middle and middle classes – taking place in the interconnection of some European cities. The hypothesis at the core of the research is whether European integration is offering these urban elites the opportunity of “exit” from their own nation-state or national society: in terms of job trajectory, social networks, cultural consumption practices (i.e., holidays and travel), media use, property ownership, education for children, or their expression of social and political values. The possibility of exit can also charaterise their relation to the local urban public sphere: for example in their choices to opt out of public urban services, such as schools, to withdraw from public networks and associations, or frequent public spaces. This indeed has been claimed as a part of the growing inequalities of some western societies in urban contexts. In this research we thus cross reference the possible “exit” strategies from national society with such urban “exit” strategies. The chapter is organised in three parts. The first discusses the theoretical background to these issues, in terms of the idea of society beyond the nation-state, the social theory of globalisation and transnational elites, leading to two hypotheses that will guide our research The second then presents some existing empirical studies on the dynamics of urban middle classes between rootedness and mobility. The third discusses the methodological considerations behind the operationalisation of these questions in our own research. Finally, then in a fourth section we present our results. These enable us to draw some preliminary conclusions about the changing patterns of elite and middle class practices and social organisation under the twin effects of Europeanization and globalization
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hal-02100048 , version 1 (15-04-2019)



Patrick Le Galès. Elites, middle classes and cities. Virginie Guiraudon; Adrian Favell. Sociology of the European Integration, Palgrave Macmillan, pp.76 - 99, 2011, 9780230207110. ⟨hal-02100048⟩
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