Training programs and geographical mobilities: models, tools and strategies. France and its colonial Empire, 18th – 21st centuries

Marianne Blanchard, ESPE Midi-Pyrénées / CERTOP; Clémence Cardon-Quint, ESPE d’Aquitaine - université de Bordeaux / CEMMC; Leïla Frouillou, Paris Nanterre, CRESPPA-GTM; Solenn Huitric, Université de Lausanne; Emmanuelle Picard, ENS de Lyon
13.06.2019 - 14.06.2019
Marianne Blanchard

This conference aims at shedding light on the many ways in which mobility participates, alongside the deployment of a geographically organized offer, in the social and territorial structuration of the educational system and, more generally, of a society in which Paris competes with the “province”, big cities with medium-sized ones, and urban areas with rural ones. The purpose is therefore to question the specific logic that undermines, on the one hand, the way educational offer is deployed, and, on the other hand, the organization of individual and collective mobilities. We can also wonder how both are linked and whether they are complementary or competing.

Papers will consider one of the following topics:

1. Models
The planned development of educational offer – from the creation of the first lycées to the “Université 2000” plan – deals with models, understood as guiding principles – “republican meritocracy”, “spatial planning”, “equal access to education supply”, etc. – which intertwine axiological considerations and organizational principles. In a more or less explicit way, those models assume certain mobilities – to drain the “best” students towards Paris – and exclude others – so as to, for example, root rural population in the countryside – and our purpose is to understand those implications.
Within this topic, we will focus on the content of these models, but also on their origin, their diffusion, or their abandonment, while being particularly attentive to the actors by whom they are conveyed. We will also examine the convergences and divergences noticed between the master schemes of public teaching and those of private institutions, that – for some – are confronted, in similar terms, to problems of catchment areas and network structuration.

2. Instruments
Beyond the symbols and myths that foster our political imagination, the papers can question the different types of instruments used to accompany, encourage, or frame these mobilities. Here are some examples: the ranking framework of the lycées that endorses the superiority of the Parisian lycées during the 19th century, the way school transportation is organized during the second half of the 20th century, or the assignment system of students in secondary of higher institutions (APB).
We will try to assess the structuring effects of those instruments that must not be understood as mere technical translations – therefore neutral- of the models mentioned above. We will especially pay attention to the way in which those instruments structure the financing flows generated by the different mobilities, whether they be taken in charge by the families, by the State, or by local communities, etc. We will include in our study the management instruments dealing with the mobility of personnel, as long as it contributes to the understanding of the educational system. Finally, we can question the practical consequences of the grid put in place by the decentralized State services, its changes, and the distribution of competencies between the State and the different local communities.

3. Strategies
This last topic will focus on the strategies developed by families and individuals confronted, depending on the period and the educational sector, to an opened and competitive market, or to a sectorized supply within which choice was constrained or even inexistent. In this last configuration, we can study the collective mobilization that intends to weight on the political decision – the fight against the closing of rural school – as well as the individual strategies that try to counteract them – the bypass of the “school map.”

This conference thus aims at enriching the reflection on the contemporary evolution of the social link in France. What role does school play in the social and geographical stratification of French society? In the long run, does the evolution of geographical mobilities induced by schooling path express a narrowing or a widening of individuals’ horizons? Have these mobilities contributed to a better coordination of the territories nested in the national space or, on the contrary, to an exacerbation of the competition?

Terms of submission
This conference is conceived as a moment of collective work and will function more like a workshop than a succession of individual presentations. Participants will agree to provide a working copy of their presentation before March 1st 2019, and allow its transmission to the other speakers. Everyone should read at least the papers of the sessions he/she will attend. During each session, a rapporteur will offer a synthesis of the papers in question and lead the discussion that will follow. Every session must therefore be considered as an opportunity to discuss hypothesis formulated through empirical surveys.

Paper proposal will focus on sources and methods. The proposal must not exceed 2500 characters. It may be presented in French or in English.

Link to submission form :

Invited participants will provide a written draft paper for pre-circulation by March 1, 2019. These ‘work-in-progress’ papers will be the starting point for discussions at the conference.


Training programs and geographical mobilities: models, tools and strategies. France and its colonial Empire, 18th – 21st centuries, 13.06.2019 – 14.06.2019 Bordeaux, in: Connections. A Journal for Historians and Area Specialists, 18.11.2017, <>.
Editors Information
Published on
Regional Classification
Additional Informations
Language Contribution
Country Event