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‘Unemployment Revolutionises the Working Class’: Le Cri des Chômeurs, French Communists and the Birth of the Movement of the Unemployed in France 1931-1932

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Matt Perry


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Despite the weight of conventional wisdom, the French movement of the unemployed of December–January 1997–8 had a significant and underestimated historical forebear. Neglected evidence for this predecessor can be found in the archives of the Parti Communiste Français (PCF) and the Confédération Générale du Travail Unitaire (CGTU) that have been available now for over a decade and, most importantly, in the overlooked newspapers of the unemployed held in the National Library as well as Ministry of Labour and Interior files at the National Archives. This article examines the birth of that movement in Paris in 1931 and 1932 and, in particular, the role of its newspaper, Le Cri des Chômeurs. The period of economic crisis seemed to constitute a propitious moment for PCF implantation. In 1931 and 1932 two factors – the Communist International's emphasis on work amongst the jobless and two phases of rapidly increasing unemployment – combined to produce an ideal moment for the establishment of an effective organization among the French unemployed comparable to that in other countries. Ultimately, in part because of missed opportunities in 1931 and 1932, the PCF was unable to create a genuine national movement of the unemployed in France.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Perry M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: French History

Year: 2002

Volume: 16

Issue: 4

Pages: 441-468

ISSN (print): 0269-1191

ISSN (electronic): 1477-4542

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/fh/16.4.441


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