The geographer and the sociologist: to understand France, this combination works every time. Historians are obviously essential. But the daily life of the country is punctuated by other variables than those of the past. The attachment to the territory forges the spirits. The etiolation of the industrial fabric and the persistence of economic dynasties shape the social bond. Read side by side The time of ordinary people (Flammarion) by Christophe Guilluy, author in 2014 of Peripheral France, and The Twilight of the Heirs. Behind the scenes of our big companies (Nouveau Monde) allows to compare these two hexagonal realities to the test of Covid-19: on the one hand, “the deplorable ones become heroes” according to Guilluy. On the other hand, “a power transmitted in a hereditary manner, in sum monarchical”, according to Denys Brunel, expert in occupational health issues.
Let’s start with those who hold this power. Because this Republic, according to Alexis de Tocqueville, is that of birth. “France is indeed, as we often hear, a country of heirs,” argues Denys Brunel, who sees it as a salient feature of this country of social struggles. “The legacy is deeply rooted in mentalities and its weight on many sectors of public life is hard to feel”, continues the author. And to add: “A strictly hereditary transmission remains, against all odds, predominant in large French companies.”