Post-Colonial Social Segmentation, Association Membership and Far-Right Support

Wednesday, June 26, 2013
C2.17 (Oudemanhuispoort)
John Veugelers , Sociology, University of Toronto
Gabriel Menard , Sociology, University of Toronto
Pierre Permingeat , Faculty of Law, McGill University
According to historian Benjamin Stora (1999), the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim legacy of colonialism in North Africa explains why broad sectors of French society today reject immigrants and their children. This claim has been examined with respect to the elites and discourse of the Front national. Our paper contributes by focussing on voting by the pieds noirs (European ex-colonials who lived in Algeria before independence in 1962). Data come from surveys of pieds noirs conducted after the elections of 2002, 2007 and 2012. Results confirm pied-noir support for far-right candidates in presidential or parliamentary elections greatly exceeds the average. This pattern is mediated by membership in voluntary associations, however: far-right voting is significantly higher among those who belong to pied-noir or veterans’ associations. The relationship is robust, moreover: it holds after controlling for the effects of other factors that affect far-right support (age, gender, class, education, union membership, religious practice or belief in racial difference). Our study lends support to the claim that linked pluralism – association membership along cross-cutting lines – means increased tolerance and hence a reduced likelihood of voting for the far right. It thus confirms the importance for far-right studies of the distinction between bridging vs. bonding social capital. It also implies the effects of France’s colonial legacy are not straightforward. These effects depend on social networks, which may or may not bring together those who differ racially, ethnically or religiously.   
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