The First World War has been described as an exceptional moment of comradeship, so great that it was able to break even the strongest class barriers. Were social distances and class hierarchies temporarily forgotten or abolished for the millions of Frenchmen of diverse origins who were called to arms in defense of their country? The article is about this novel experiment, provoking encounters and contacts on a huge scale and often for the first time, between an overwhelming majority of manual workers and petty employees of humble extraction, and a small number of bourgeois and intellectuals. It tells the story of the discovery, by the French bourgeoisie of the Belle Epoque, of the ordinary people who fought in the trenches.
Nicolas Mariot is a senior researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research, CNRS (European Center for Sociology and Political Science, University Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne and École des hautes études en sciences sociales). Among his publications are Bains de foule: Les voyages présidentiels en province, 1888–2002 (2006), Face à la persécution: 991 Juifs dans la guerre (2010, with Claire Zalc), “Does Acclamation Equal Agreement? Rethinking Collective Effervescence through the Case of the Presidential “Tour de France” During the 20th Century” (Theory & Society 40, 2 ), Tous unis dans la tranchée? 1914–1918, les intellectuels rencontrent le peuple (2013) and Histoire d’un sacrifice: Robert, Alice et la guerre (1914–1917) (2017).52 E-mail: Nicolas.firstname.lastname@example.org