The pigistes journalists group identity between historical legacy and social construction
Since the expansion of press at the end of the nineteenth century in France, the journalistic profession has known many changes. The profession has been legally established in 1935 by a French law in response to unions’ actions. In France, one can distinguish between two types of journalists: the wage-earners and the pigistes. The first ones receive a wage and experience regularity in their employment relationship. The pigistes are linked to employers by an open-ended contract, as freelance workers are. The latter had to lobby to become legally empowered, forty years after the wage-earners. It seems that the wageearners, and social and scientific actors denied their professionalism and their legitimacy as journalists. Nowadays, the situation has hardly changed and when the pigiste case is raised, it is considered as a symbol of the precariousness of the journalistic profession. The pigiste embodies a status which is, most of the time, far removed from the ideal of freedom and independence that appeared in the early twentieth century. My research project aims to examine the internet’s possibilities, especially concerning mediation and communication, for the pigistes in France. A pigiste works at home, isolated from his peers, without any ‘corporate culture’, in a low communication environment. The internet could provide him (or her) with an opportunity to create a ‘symbolic environment’ (Proulx, 2004), as it allows group communication and network interaction. As a result, ICTs would meet the needs for information and visibility of a professionally and geographicallydispersed group, seeking social and professional recognition as the pigistes. Online, this group can create a fragile social link but efficient enough to satisfy the need for affiliation and security in a destabilizing environment. Thus, the group of pigistes could create a collective (online) identity. If these assumptions would be confirmed, the question would then be how the internet fits into the construction process of identity of this group? And with what effects? My PhD thesis develops an interdisciplinary approach built on various disciplines such as sociology of work, sociology of journalism and media, theories of cultural industries, sociology of technology and its uses. This approach is very necessary because of the multiplicity and variety of elements to appreciate in order to apprehend the full complexity of the current pigistes group identity and its evolution.