Les cadres à l'épreuve de l'employabilité. Le chômage des cadres dans les années 1990 en France

Abstract : This PhD thesis tries to estimate how the unemployment growth between 1990 and 1995 has contributed to the "destabilization of stable employees" in France. The increase of managers and professionals' unemployment rate has participated to a debate on the evolutions of careers, the image of a "cadre" (employment stability, homogeneity, specificity) has been considered obsolete and replaced in journalists and HR discourses by two new figures: a negative one, the "precarious white collars" (closer to blue-collars in employment insecurity) and a positive one, the "boundaryless careers" (closer to entrepreneurs in mobility and risks taking). The first part shows how these reflections on the evolution of managerial careers underestimate the role of experts and spokesmen, the internal heterogeneity and the growing feminization of these qualified workers. These homogeneous discourses, negative or positive, are strongly nuanced by statistical analyses on mobility flux and trajectories (vulnerability / employability), based on the French Labour Survey. The second part is focused on the social conditions of diffusion and appropriation of the image of a "boundaryless career". A job research can be analysed as a moment of secondary socialization to the norms of the "new spirit of capitalism", based on notions like project, employability, networks and transferable skills. This rhetoric can help fired managers to adopt substitution status and avoid the unemployment stigma, and is adapted to their ethos (psychologization, individualism, rationalization). But the analysis of their effective job researches reveal social inequalities within the group of managers and professionals, mainly on diploma, age and type of occupations/sectors. To better understand how people live careers and professional transitions, we need also to analyse the articulation between occupational life and private life, in a gender perspective. Managers and professionals are not "nomads" mobiles within their networkers, and used to career accidents. They are sexual individuals that are embedded in a family configuration. During this difficult life period, particularly at mid-career, men try to keep their place in their family (usually as main-bread-winner) but women try to keep their autonomy (that they had build before). The centrality of work in symbolic but also material terms, is in definitive confirmed by the unemployment experience, and even sometimes create a re-sacralization of work, particularly for those who try to find their vocation and a sense to life through their new job.
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Sophie Pochic. Les cadres à l'épreuve de l'employabilité. Le chômage des cadres dans les années 1990 en France. Sociologie. Aix-Marseille Université, 2001. Français. ⟨NNT : 2001AIX24007⟩. ⟨tel-00797059⟩

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