The memory of the May 1968 strikes remains vivid in France. Yet, here as elsewhere, the number and the length of labor strikes has decreased throughout the last twenty years. Does this retreat mark the advent of peace and quiet for labor, or is it only the effect of pressure exerted by the menace of unemployment and the precarious position of salaried workers ?
Marked by a solid historical, theoretical, and empirical approach to labor strikes, here in France as in Europe, this work puts in evidence the ambivalence of current trends : changes in employment have contributed to the weakening of the strike as recourse for salaried employees, but the metamorphosis of the labor strike does not imply the extinction of mobilized protest in the labor world for now.
Striking is no longer very central to social conflict. More often, it belongs to the halo of mobilization methods that reawaken other antiestablishment actions (petitions, demonstrations, etc.) but which recapture the spirit of coalition and resistance that has characterized the strike since its birth.
Guy Groux is Director of CNRS Research at Cevipof (Sciences Po Center of Political Research). Jean-Marie Pernot is a Researcher at the IRES (Institute of Economic and Social Research).