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French deputies, their assistants and the uses of staff appropriations : A sociology of political work - P. Le Lidec

Patrick Le Lidec
CNRS, CERSA, 10, rue Thénard, 75005 Paris, France

Available online 6 October 2009 on ScienceDirect

This analysis focuses on how members of Parliament in France organize their staff. The way deputies distribute the tasks among their assistants suggests that the organization and division of labor should be understood mainly in relation to the pressures generated by MPs in their home district, since a seat in the National Assembly very much depends on providing services to constituents. The staff under the use of the single member district system is so involved in solving voters’ “personal” problems of various sorts that assistants are forced to devise strategies for regulating demand and providing often token responses. Developing relations with constituents even affects their legislative duties. For deputies, it is a way of reducing the “occupational” risks inherent in elective office. They must adapt to a voting system that incites them to adopt a conception of representation closer to that of spokesperson for the residents of their district than of representative of the Nation.

Keywords : Political work ; Member of Parliament ; Single member district system ; Casework ; Parliament ; Political representation ; France

Article Outline

  • 1. The organization of parliamentary staff
    • 1.1. Spatial distribution and organizing staff’s work : priority to the constituency
    • 1.2. An analysis focused on the constituency : what voters say
    • 1.3. “Treating” demands in a district : regulation strategies
    • 1.4. The congressional office, not a bureau like any other
  • 2. Answering requests : role-playing
    • 2.1. “A connection for people who don’t have any” : being an in-between
    • 2.2. Forced to get results : a wealth of symbolic actions
    • 2.3. Back in Parliament : the district as the focal point of deputies’ work
    • 2.4. Standardizing, professionalism and regulating political work
  • 3. Conclusion
  • References

Sociologie du Travail
Volume 51, Supplement 2, November 2009, Pages e117–e135
Translation : Gabrielle Varro