This introductory article reflects on the new momentum that political radicalism has taken on in France. The ebb and flow of radical aspiration featured regularly in French politics under the Fourth and early Fifth Republics, before the failure of the "Socialist experiment" in the early 1980s brought about a paradigm shift. In the wake of this failure and with the "end of ideology" supposedly in sight, political leaders and parties tempered their appeals to radical solutions and conspired, not least through recurrent power-sharing, to vacate mainstream political discourse of much of its former radicalism. Since the presidential election of 2007, however, there has been a marked return to promises of radical change as the common currency of political discourse across the full left-right spectrum in France. This article introduces a special issue of French Politics, Culture & Society that brings together scholars from France, Britain, and Canada to discuss some of the meanings, expressions, and prospects of political radicalism in France today.
Political Radicalism in France
Perspectives on a Protean Concept
Are the Founding Ideas Obsolete?
Isabelle Petit and George Ross
On 9 May 1950, in an elegant salon of the Quai d’Orsay in Paris, France’s Foreign Minister Robert Schuman proposed that France and Germany, plus any other democratic nation in Western Europe that wanted to join, establish a “community” to regulate and govern the coal and steel industries across national borders. France and Germany had been at, or preparing for, war for most of the nineteenth and twentieth century, at huge costs to millions of citizens. Moreover, in 1950 iron and steel remained central to national economic success and war-making power. The Schuman Plan therefore clearly spoke to deeper issues.
Index to Volume 28 (2010)
Assessing France as a Model of Societal Success
Éloi Laurent and Michèle Lamont
In this article, we propose a definition of the elusive "French model" of societal success and explore its usefulness for understanding the forces shaping France's future. This model, we suggest, remains "statist-republicanist": its democracy revolves around the idea of republicanism, while its economy continues to rely heavily on market regulation and public intervention. We assess France's model of societal success, which requires exploring the country's long-term assets and liabilities for human development. We argue, first of all, that France relies on a combination of a high fertility rate, an excellent health care system, a low level of income inequalities, and "de-carbonized growth"; second, that it continues to have a major liability, namely, a shadow French model of cultural membership that sustains segregation and discrimination; and third, that it experiences an important decoupling between its profound socio-economic transformations, on the one hand, and its political discourse and representations of the polity, on the other.
Judith G. Coffin
This essay considers the near simultaneity of The Second Sex and Alfred C. Kinsey's reports on sexual behavior. It shows how reviewers in both France and the United States paired the studies; it asks how that pairing shaped the reception of The Second Sex; and it situates the studies in their larger historical context—a moment in which sexuality commanded new and much broader attention. An ever-widening number of disciplines, institutions, sectors of mass culture, and representatives of an expanding consumer economy (from studies of the authoritarian personality or juvenile delinquency to advertising) insisted that sexuality was key to their concerns and enterprises. The ways in which sexuality might be understood multiplied—to the point where an allencompassing notion of “sex” collapsed, giving way, eventually, to a plurality of terms: sexuality, sex roles, and gender.
Biographers of Paris
Cultural Approaches to the Modern City
Victoria E. Thompson
Hollis Clayson, Paris in Despair: Art and Everyday Life under Siege (1870-71) (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2002).
Mary Gluck, Popular Bohemia: Modernism and Urban Culture in Nineteenth-Century Paris (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005).
Patrice Higonnet, Paris: Capital of the World, translated by Arthur Goldhammer (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002).
Alistair Horne, Seven Ages of Paris: Portrait of a City (London: Macmillan, 2002).
Colin Jones, Paris: The Biography of a City (New York: Viking, 2004).
Nicholas Papayanis, Planning Paris before Haussmann (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004).
Pierre Pinon, Paris, biographie d’une capitale (Paris: Hazan, 1999).