Abstract: Immigrant Small Businesses and Immigrant Small Entrepreneurs in the Paris Region (1919-1939)

Claire Zalc


Small immigrant entrepreneurs in the Paris region between the 1919 and 1939 wars hardly fit the usual profile of "immigrant workers." Shunning foreign labor recruitment networks, they basically defined themselves by their independent status. To define the status of these immigrants one is led to assess their social standing according to their progress. This paper asserts the prevalence of time and of migration patterns in the paths leading to independence. Foreign petty traders differentiated among themselves between "pioneer" and "established" traders. Their activities were dependent on spouse, siblings, and household structures as well as on community of origin, and also relied on the relationships established within immigration circles (neighbors and friends). Their inroads within the Paris urban area were shaped by the groups to which they belonged. This mechanism seized up during the 1930s, however, and the resultant crisis had statutory as well as socioeconomic effects.