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1968 was a watershed year in terms of social change across the world. While countries behind the iron curtain like Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary were fighting for more reasonable government, western countries such as Germany, Italy, the United States, and France all dealt with uprisings from communist student groups. The unique aspect of the French Revolt of 1968, versus similar revolts in places such as The United States, or Germany, was the relationship between college students and members of the French working class.
For this essay I split the French working class into two separate groups: the immigrant workers, and the indigenous workers. During 1960s nearly two million immigrants came to France to fill vacancies in the industry market. The immigrants often found life very difficult in France as they were forced into slums and received inadequate pay. These factors contributed to the immigrants feeling isolated from normal society.
During this time, the indigenous working class also felt excluded, albeit for different reasons, and demonstrated their frustration through wildcat or antiunion strikes where they would occupy the factories they worked in. The indigenous and immigrant workers were largely separated from each other, not only because of the different living situations, but because immigrants were often used to break the wildcat strikes conducted by the workers since immigrants were willing to work for lower pay.
During the 1960s college students were becoming increasingly frustrated with their universities as they felt it ignored their needs. Throughout the 1960s the three aforementioned groups felt ignored and excluded by the rest of French society but it was not until 1968 that these groups united over a similar cause. This essay focuses on the isolation and discontent that the three groups felt throughout the 1960s and how they eventually joined forces during 1968 to conduct the biggest worker strike in French history.
Duhan, John, "Vive le Proletariat: The 1968 Revolt of French Workers and Students" (2013). Honors Theses. 2376.
Honors Thesis-Open Access