When the movement becomes an event: The utopian flame of Nuit debout

By Arthur Guichoux, Federico Tarragoni

Some social movements are political events. This is the case when, because of their repertoires of action and/or the context in which they take place, they are perceived by their actors as real breakthroughs in their politicization process and, more generally, in their biographical trajectory. The “square movements” that arose after the subprime crisis are, from this point of view, absolutely typical. The occupation of the squares became a collective utopia —or a “heterotopia” to use Foucault’s term— at the end of which the individuals left radically transformed. This is the hypothesis that this article tests with the help of a double longitudinal survey of participants in Nuit debout (Paris), using life stories and semi-structured interviews. It seeks to elucidate the structural and contextual reasons behind why the perception of having experienced a “utopia in action” was shared by individuals with different political and activist socializations.

  • Nuit debout
  • Square occupancy
  • Utopia
  • Event
  • Democracy.
Go to the article on Cairn-int.info