Geraud Lafarge

Change and inertia of French journalism. The institutionalisation of an incerti loci

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The «crisis of journalism» is now both an established fact and discourse. Using Pierre Bourdieu’s studies on social and professional spaces, especially in times of change or even revolution, this paper aims to change this spontaneous perspective on journalism and its current developments, and to uncover their underlying structural social logics. Such a shift requires a strong focus on social characteristics of journalists, and on the entry requirements. To this end, we have selected as our population sample and research topic the students graduating from French specialised media schools, their social properties, trajectories and careers. Data on students’ social characteristics and employment characteristics 8 years after graduation were analysed in the shape of a multiple correspondence analysis and a principal component analysis. It was completed by a series of interviews with former students. Our survey reveals a growing social and educational selection and influence of inherited assets (economic, social and cultural) in accessing these schools and the professional journalistic positions they lead to. It shows that the main difference structuring this education and professional space opposes a «petite porte» and a «grande porte» as mode of entry. Inherited and accumulated capitals help also individuals cope with a longer jobhunting period and even establish new positions. Lastly, this study demonstrates that the main transformation of the French journalistic field is its relative self-closure and institutionalisation. However, it appears that the behaviours and differentiated trajectories of the young generation of journalists we have studied are not only the result of their respective capitals, but also their habitus, their relation to the world and to the future. The determining role of habitus in these careers, which is both a factor of permanence and adaptability, and of the structural logics of production of a professional group and reproduction of social groups reminds us how interrelated inertia and change are in transforming journalism in France.


  • journalistic field
  • field of higher education
  • incerti loci
  • social reproduction
  • multiple correspondence analysis


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