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Precarious Sociality, Ethics and Politics

French Documentary Cinema in the Early Twenty-First Century

A study of how French social documentary engages our precarious world.
An exploration of turn-of-the-century French documentary cinema, Precarious Sociality explores how filmmakers engage and resist the ways finance capitalism has violently reshaped reality since the late 1990s. Audrey Evrard traces the dissolution of twentieth-century class narratives into a more complete recognition of difference empowering new solidarity grounded in economic, social, and ecological precariousness. Placing well-known auteurs side by side with less canonical filmmakers, Precarious Sociality reaffirms the enduring power of long-form documentaries in a political landscape reshaped by social media clips.

264 pages | 25 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2

French and Francophone Studies

Film Studies

Media Studies

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"For anyone interested in contemporary French documentary or French responses to neoliberalism, Evrard's new book is essential reading. It is rigorous but wears its theory lightly. It is scholarly, but eminently readable. It is located with great sureness of touch in a socio-economic context but never loses sight of the films and the kind of formal and thematic choices they deploy. It draws on a judicious selection of works by prominent and less well-known directors, and plots a way through them. . . as the book moves from factory closure films, through new oppressions, to new sites of struggle. It is perhaps this which makes the book so interesting—it does not simply explore documentary's power to bear witness to harms done, but is attentive to how it brings forms of sociality into view while embodying a democratic ethics through its own filmic practices."

Martin O'Shaughnessy, Professor of Film Studies, Nottingham Trent University

"Compelling, timely and exhaustively researched, Evrard’s book provides a fascinating glimpse into the precariousness of work, sociality and life in the twenty-first century, through the lens of French documentary cinema. This book is essential reading for scholars interested in French cinematic practice, ethics and contemporary politics. Written in an engaging and accessible style, it will appeal to researchers and undergraduates alike."

Sarah Waters, Professor of French Studies, University of Leeds

"An original, incisive, and theoretically informed study of a sub-genre of documentary filmmaking that relates to the most vital political issues in France today—economic inequality, precarity and social fracture."

Jeremy F. Lane, Professor of French and Critical theory, University of Nottingham

Table of Contents

List of illustrations7
Notes to readers9


1 The vanishing factory35

2 Global precarity, local struggles86

3 Precarious filiations114

4 No pain, no gain: the ordinary brutality of (the) work(place)156

5 Portraits of life in France’s folds193

Concluding remarks237

Films cited315

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