While translating these texts on the riots in France, i have used the term “working classes” to translate “classes populaires”, even though a more literal translation would be “popular classes.”
This is because the word “populaire” has the connotation of “the people” as in “the masses” or “the oppressed” or “the lower classes” whereas in English “popular” does not normally have this connotation.
That said, “working classes” is also inexact, as the way this is translated into French is “classe ouvrière.”
I am not sure if there are distortions as to one’s line that might flow from this question, but given the heat generated by such questions as “how many Stalinist angels can dance on the head of a Trotskyist pinhead?” i am sure here is potential…
So please be forewarned that when you see “working classes” or “popular classes” in any of these translations, that there is room for some ambiguity.
And if any other left-wing translators out there have any advice as to how i should handle his thorny issue, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org!