A “Popular” Neighbourhood? The Nominal Lists of 1926, 1931 and 1936 Censuses on a Fragment of the 18th Arrondissement of Paris.

Pierre Joffre , EHESS

Through the study of a neighbourhood composed of about 30 streets in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, this presentation will offer a plea for a more frequent use of censuses in the urban and social history of Paris and cities throughout Europe – where this kind of censuses exist –, while emphasising their limits. The data has been entered manually for 1926 and gathered through the POPP-project (a programme of Optical Character Recognition) for 1931 and 1936. We will present the methodology used for the coding: a comparison between several socio-professional categorisations. We will mainly use two grids from the French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies, from 1954 and 2003, and grids produced by a French historian (Prost, 2004, 1998). In addition to the methodological contribution, we will offer a detailed study of the overall population of the district we focus on, compare it with the population of two social housing units that border it and finally focus on specific populations such as employees, servants, artists, foreigners…, to discuss the representation of the “popular district”, and consider social cohabitation. The conception of the census allows us to multiply scales of analysis: the nominal lists, building by building, offer an opportunity to compare from street to street, looking for over or under representations of specific social groups, connecting social and spatial position within the neighbourhood. Contrary to the reputation of this arrondissement, some streets and buildings are inhabited by popular classes, whereas others are actually inhabited by the upper-class.

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 Presented in Session 31. Historical Demography