The complicated, nuanced story of how racialized French people fought to save their local McDonald's

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Whether it’s McD’s or Starbucks or an Ikea cafeteria or a shopping mall, corporate-owned “third places” are always complicated situations. Capitalism demands as many regular customers and quality employees as possible, so successful enterprises in this category don’t care about religion or skin colour or economic background of patrons and lower-level employees (that’s usually the domain of the various “fast food Francine” type customers, who usually end up getting kicked out). Corporate chains also do a lot of local outreach and charity to build brand goodwill in their communities.

On the other hand, the corporation expects everything to be done on its own terms, according to SOP and with no exceptions, with the end goal of increasing profits through sales. Any perceived disruption is dealt with swiftly and brutally. Sometimes that comes into conflict with the third-place aspects described in the paragraph above.

That’s before you throw in the class and economic stratification of France’s workplace and neighbourhood cultures, the strong trade union sensibility in the labour market, and how those come into conflict with both the values of an American multinational and the Western neoliberal consensus. Then there all the individual human personalities involved in this particular story. It’s really worth a listen or read-through.


corporate going so far as to support the closure of profitable restaurants in order to shed empowered workers.

Seems like these workers should band together and open a co-op style restaurant chain and get rid of corporate. Kind of a big ask but it would give them more power to run the business in a way that can work best with their communities and employees.

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plays Robert Plant’s “Freedom Fries” on the Muzak

Can you explain what you mean by “racialized” in this context? I don’t understand.

France is a racialised society in regard to how it treats its brown-skinned citizens who are immigrants or descendants of immigrants from former North African colonies like Algeria (they are thus considered racialised by French society). There’s a lot of insitutional and cultural racism and discrimination against them, especially in the domestic (as opposed to multinational) corporate sector. The story discusses some of the complexities of being a racialised person in modern France.

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