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Philip Nord

The interwar years have been characterized as a “watershed” in the history of French Catholicism,1 and it is not hard to see why. The Church had experienced the first decades of the Third Republic as a time of trial and persecution. World War I, however, gave believers reason to look forward to a brighter future. The republican establishment had welcomed the political representatives of Catholic opinion into the Union sacrée. The distress of soldiers and war widows had nourished a revival of popular faith.2 With the return of peace, the Catholic laity plunged into an associational activism of unprecedented proportions. The vaulting edifice of voluntary bodies they constructed reenergized the faith and at the same articulated a Catholic countervision of the proper constitution of la cité.

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The Writer's Responsibility in France

From Flaubert to Sartre

Gisèle Sapiro

Based on the notion of legal responsibility, the article establishes a connection between the social conditions of production of literature and the ethical principles that founded the commitment of writers as intellectuals in France from the nineteenth century to the post-World War II period. While the penal responsibility of the author is imbued with a belief in the power of words, the trials were in turn often the occasion for writers like Flaubert and Baudelaire to define their own ethics of responsibility against the values of conventional morality and political conformity through which their work was liable to condemnation. Articulating these ethical principles affirmed the writer's independence from political and religious authorities and contributed to the emergence of an autonomous literary field, as defined by Pierre Bourdieu. The figure of the writer as a public intellectual best embodied by Zola and Sartre emerged on the basis of this code of ethics.

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A French Paradox?

Toward an Explanation of Inconsistencies between Framing and Policies

Henri Bergeron, Patrick Castel, and Abigail C. Saguy

The French news media has framed “obesity” largely as a product of corporate greed and social inequality. Yet, France has—like other nations including the United States—adopted policies that focus on changing individual-level behavior. This article identifies several factors—including food industry lobbying, the Ministry of Agriculture’s rivalry with the Ministry of Health and alliance with the food industry, and competition with other policy goals—that favored the development of individual-level policy approaches to obesity in France at the expense of social-structural ones. This case points to the need to more systematically document inconsistencies and consistencies between social problem framing and policies. It also shows that national culture is multivalent and internally contradictory, fueling political and social struggles over which version of national culture will prevail at any given moment.

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Randolph Miller

Catholics and republican socialists were already on opposing sides of the culture war that divided France at the end of the nineteenth century. A second and deeper conflict, however, complicated their relationship. The once uneasy rapport between

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What Do the French Think of Us?

The Deteriorating Image of the United States, 2000-2004

Richard Kuisel

What do the French think of Americans and the United States? This is a grand question whose answer reveals a crucial dimension of the current tension in Franco-American relations. It is also a question that can be answered reasonably well. Transatlantic troubles have stirred interest in ascertaining the state of public opinion. The result is an extraordinary number of comprehensive surveys conducted over the last five years. The US Department of State, for example, has systematically monitored French attitudes. So have many French and American polling agencies like SOFRES, CSA, and the Pew Center. Foundations like the French-American Foundation and the German Marshall Fund of the US have also sponsored research. Between fifteen and twenty thousand Frenchmen and women have recorded their opinion in such surveys. This evidence provides a unique opportunity for research into how the man- or woman-in-the-street views the United States.

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Julie Fette

In societies coming to terms with historical injustices, public apology has recently emerged as a potent trend. This is particularly true of France, where the state served as a catalyst for a wave of public apologies for acts of intolerance committed during the Second World War. Following Jacques Chirac's 1995 official apology for Vichy's anti-Semitic policies, various groups in civil society publicly atoned for their particular Vichy roles in discrimination against Jews: the medical profession, the law bar, the Catholic Church, and the police. How does public apology, as distinct from court trials, historical commissions, and reparations, affect contemporary France's reconciliation with its past? This article also analyzes how apologizing for Vichy has created demand for an official French apology for the Algerian War. By 2006, the politics of memory in French society decidedly shifted attention from Vichy to post-colonialism: in both cases, the apology turn imposes new dynamics of remembering and forgetting.

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Anand Menon

Since 1966 and even before, the policies pursued by France toward NATO have been both the object of a certain amount of Gallic pride and the source of considerable confusion, not to say irritation, among France’s partners. Why have these policies been pursued? The aim of this article is to address this question by means of an examination of the domestic pressures and constraints that have helped to shape France’s policies toward NATO. It reveals a striking paradox: the decision-making arrangements that developed around and emerged out of de Gaulle’s single-minded quest to achieve international independence for France were specifically designed to provide him with the freedom to pursue policies of his own choosing.

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Giuliana Chamedes and Elizabeth A. Foster

Scholarly attention to decolonization in the French Empire and beyond has largely focused on the political transitions from colonies to nation-states. This introduction, and the essays in this special issue, present new ways of looking at decolonization by examining how religious communities and institutions imagined and experienced the end of French Empire. This approach adds valuable perspectives obscured by historiographical emphasis on French republican secularism and on the workings of the colonial state. Bringing together histories of religion and decolonization sheds new light on the late colonial period and the early successor states of the French empire. It also points to the importance of international institutions and transnational religious communities in the transitions at the end of empire.

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The Far Right Vote in France

From Consolidation to Collapse?

James Shields

The presidential and legislative elections of 2007 are widely seen to have marked the end of the Far Right as a major political force in France. How could this occur only five years after Le Pen's qualification for the presidential run-off, and with his party seemingly in the ascendant? This article discusses recent fluctuations in Far Right electoral performance in France. It focuses largely on the presidential elections of 2002 and 2007, re-examining the (supposed) upswell of Far Right support in 2002 and its (supposed) subsidence in 2007. Both elections require nuanced interpretation. Both confounded poll predictions, which in 2007 failed to measure the effect of Sarkozy's hard-right campaign and, crucially, the extent to which the border between “mainstream Right” and “Far Right” had shifted since 2002. This allowed Sarkozy to drain part of Le Pen's electorate, and raises questions over the wider impact of Le Pen and the FN on the political agenda in France.

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Pierre H. Boulle

Sue Peabody, “There Are No Slaves in France”: The Political Culture of Race and Slavery in the Ancien Régime (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996).

Laurent Dubois, Les Esclaves de la République. L’histoire oubliée de la première émancipation, 1789-1794, transl. by Jean-François Chaix (Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 2000).