The League of Education is one of the most important French education confederations, with about 1.5 million members. Over the course of its 150 years of existence, it has been through many economic, ideological, and governance crises. But these crises have multiplied. The organization faces financial difficulties, a decrease in membership, a grassroots distrust of management and difficulty in ideologically positioning itself. This article draws from sociology and political science research about civic service policy within the League of Education and the transformations carried out by the organization under the French Fifth Republic. The authors deliver an analysis of the League of Education in light of new relations between the State and the associations, and considering transformations specific to the League of Education, its identity, its governance and its structure. The article illustrates why this crisis tends to last and analyses the resources mobilized by the League to overcome them.
Florence Ihaddadene is an associate professor in learning sciences at the University Jules Verne Picardie. Her sociology dissertation analyzed the implementation of civic service within the League of Education, the first hosting structure for volunteers until 2014. Her work focuses on associational and public service volunteer program policies in France and abroad as well as on popular education federations. With Céline Leroux, she edited a special issue of Cahiers de l'action (49, 2017) on “Regards sur la mobilité internationale des jeunes d'outre-mer.” She has also published “Involvement or Employability Policies: Competition within the Volunteer Programs in Madagascar” in Critique Internationale 81(4), 2018.
Anne Lancien is a post-doctoral fellow at Sciences Po and a research fellow at the Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités (GSRL). Her dissertation in political science was about the League of Education and the transformations carried out by the organization since the 1950s. Her main fields of interest are social movements, secular organizations, secularization, popular education, non-religion. She published several articles on these themes, notably “Secular associations as vectors of integration and production of secularism in contemporary society. The case of the League of education,” in Anne-Laure Zwilling et al. (ed.), Formatting Religions in Modern Societies (London: Springer editions, 2022).