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Join(ing) the family. Political attachment of young Lebanese through narratives.

Bruno Lefort
Tampere University
Bruno Lefort
Tampere University
Open Panel

Abstract

Lebanon offers a typical case for continuities in political participation within families, as political affiliation participates in the depiction of almost every family. Intergenerational transmission of partisanship is generally explained by the sectarian order prevailing in the Lebanese society. However, little attention has been given to the concrete mechanisms through which party-attachment are constructed and perpetuated. This paper argues that intergenerational reproduction of partisanship is realized through the actualization of the memory of the family (past experiences of childhood, from the parents or close relatives) and its inscription within the frame of a socially constructed narrative in which actors find elements to express both their personal and group identities. The concept of narrative is mobilized as a key to decrypt the construction of group affiliation and the perpetuation of political attachment, as narrative is here relying on collective memories, perceptions and cognition originated in multiple human groups brought together under the partisan label. Narrative represents a unifying context in which the actors express their own worldviews and emotions as well as re-interpret those they inherited during socialization process. The result is that partisanship is perceived symbolically as an extension of the family-ties. By mobilizing an identity narrative, young people assure the renovation of the experiences of the social groups they are inscribed in and the actualization of the collective stream incarnated by the party, making the intergenerational transmission of partisanship possible. Argumentation is based on empirical qualitative data, mainly deep interviews collected among student activists engaged with the Free-Patriotic-Movement, a political party predominantly influential within the Christian population since its origins as a social movement in 1988. Students'' backgrounds, biographical trajectories and representations have been detailed through a double-interview protocol. A detour by the Lebanese case enables a better understanding of the social processes generating intergenerational transmission of political affiliations.