Firefighting French sociologist rings a political alarm

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Romain Pudal is a sociologist with the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and also, since 2002, a voluntary firefighter. Last month he published an ethnographic study of his fellow firefighters in which he opens up a world that, beyond the clichés and folklore, is largely little understood in both its composition and outlook. Joseph Confavreux argues that Pudal’s book, which he presents here, makes for edifying reading on the political and social tensions that grip contemporary France, and also on the fragmentation of its lower social classes.

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Sociologist Romain Pudal did his military service as a firefighter, and subsequently joined the brigade, in 2002, as a volunteer, which is the status of the majority of firefighters, or pompiers, in France.