Dorit Geva

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2016/2017
discipline Sociology
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Central European University

Research project

For the Love of a Woman: Gender, Class, and the French Radical Right

 

This project examines the growing popularity of the radical right Front National (FN) party, and its leader Marine Le Pen, in contemporary France. I ask how and why a woman leader, and the strongly gendered political imagery her party promotes, answers the class grievances of petty bourgeois and working class citizens who feel left behind in the wake of globalization and the cosmopolitan liberalism of the European Union. While scholarship on women’s participation in electoral politics has flourished, and while there is increasing attention to understanding the rise of radical right parties in Europe, these discrete research agendas miss a pivotal aspect in understanding support for the radical right in Europe: They do not examine how the field of politics is symbolically gendered, and how the rise of the radical right is itself a gendered process.

 

Following six months of ethnographic research in the southeast of France, the party’s traditional heartland, and through two years of further interviews with FN members, I have found that FN supporters’ criticism of Muslim immigration and liberal economic policy is filtered through a critique of France’s elite political class. Issue-specific contestations are expressed as a critique of class. However, the critique of class undergoes a "transfiguration" to gender. FN adherents perceive political elites as the bourgeois products of France’s most prestigious universities, "men in suits" who are indistinguishable from one another despite party affiliation. They are the salaried career politicians, indistinguishable also from the European Union’s men in suits who are the ideological carriers of excessive liberalism in the policy domains of immigration and "EU-philia".

 

By contrast, Marine, as she is lovingly called by her supporters, is seen as a woman born for politics. She is seen as having grown up within the party, and is thus a person for whom politics is eminently personal and passionate, as opposed to the male career politicians and cosmopolitan technocrats in Paris and Brussels. The theme of Marine’s beauty is also a common one within FN circles. So is the view that she "incarnates" a new spirit of hope. For young and old she embodies a riposte to the distant men in suits running the country. In turn, FN adherents seize upon highly feminized political symbolism in order to articulate their critique of the elite political class and its ideologies. In this way gendered political symbolism answers class grievances.

 

Biography

 

Dorit Geva is Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology of the Central European University, Budapest. She holds a Ph.D in Sociology from the New York University. Her expertise is in political sociology, comparative and historical sociology, economic sociology, and feminist social theory.

 

Selected publications

 

'Selective Service, the Gender-Ordered Family, and the Rational Informality of the American State', American Journal of Sociology, vol. 121, no. 1, 2015, pp. 171-204.

 

'Of Bellicists and Feminists: French Conscription, Total War, and the Gender Contradictions of the State', Politics and Society, vol. 42, no. 2, 2014, pp. 135-165.

 

Conscription, Family, and the Modern State: A Comparative Study of France and the United States, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2013.

 

'Not Just Maternalism: Marriage and Fatherhood in American Welfare Politics', Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State, and Society, vol. 18, no. 1, 2011, pp. 24-51.

 

'Where the State Feared to Tread: Conscription and Local Patriarchalism in Modern France', in J. Adams & M. Charrad (eds), The Power of Kinship: Patrimonial States in Global Perspective, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 636, no. 1, 2011, pp. 111-128.

 

institut

junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
Collegium de Lyon
discipline History
2015
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2013/2014
Collegium de Lyon
discipline Environmental Science
2013
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2012/2013
Collegium de Lyon
discipline History
2012
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Collegium de Lyon
discipline Humanities and Social Sciences
2016