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Social Quality

The French Case

Denis Bouget and Frederic Salladarré

The objective of this study is to establish a set of indicators capable of forming the empirical basis of the concept of social quality for European citizens. Social quality is defined as the extent to which citizens are able to participate in the social and economic life of their communities under conditions which enhance their well-being and individual potential (Beck et al. 2001: 6). Before analysing the four social quality conditional factors, we will describe some facts surrounding the French situation. Firstly, the general social and economic situation will be described through characteristics which are particularly outstanding in France, i.e., in the first place unemployment and flexibility (in a negative sense comprising working poor, involuntary part-time workers, etc.). In the second place, certain striking features in the four conditional factors of social quality will be emphasised.

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Ronald Schechter

This article argues that the term “holy” (saint/sainte) was a key word in the French revolutionary lexicon during the Terror. Its use was comparable in frequency to the terms “glorious” and “useful”. Among the many things revolutionaries regarded as “holy”—for example, liberty, equality, the constitution, the laws, and the revolution itself—by far the most often cited was the “Mountain”. Historians have assumed that “Montagne” simply referred to the deputies who occupied the upper benches in the National Convention, but an analysis of the term “holy Mountain” shows that the real significance of the name came from its analogy to Mount Sinai. Revolutionaries venerated the Mountain as a source of divine laws and as a force with the godlike capacity to punish “impious” enemies. The concept indicates an authentic religiosity among the revolutionaries, who are otherwise seen as heirs to the Enlightenment, and therefore questions the traditional opposition between Enlightenment and religion.

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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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Bleu, Blanc…Green?

France and Climate Change

Éloi Laurent

The deadly heat wave of August 2003 convinced a majority of French of the dramatic impact of climate change. This article aims at presenting evidence and analysis about public perception, environmental performance, and policy development in France with regards to this major public apprehension. The French are indeed among the most concerned people in the world and the EU about climate change, and they seem more willing than others to act resolutely to mitigate it. Yet, if the performance of the French economy in terms of greenhouse gas emissions (GHS) is flattering, ambitious public policies will have to be implemented to achieve the "factor 4" objective set in 2005 (a four-fold reduction of GHG by 2050). This was precisely the main purpose of the "Grenelle environnement," which in 2007 tried to build into the law the national consensus on climate change and the sustainability of which is bound to be tested by acute economic difficulties.

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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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Jonathan Gosnell

This article explores cultural traditions from a little-known corner of the francophone world, what specialists call Franco-America. It represents a fertile site for reexamination of francophone postcolonial cultures. Beginning in the nineteenth century, French Canadians traveled to New England mill towns in search of work, established ethnic communities, and progressively became Franco-Americans. Today, endogamous Franco enclaves have all but disappeared, but French cultural expressions persist. Jack Kerouac is the most wellknown representative of this obscure French life. Franco-American written cultures, the focus of this essay, shed light on a distinct immigrant experience in the United States.

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Alsace-Lorraine and Africa

French Discussions of French and German Politics, Culture, and Colonialism in the Deliberations of the Union for Truth, 1905–1913

Jean Elisabeth Pedersen

This article explores the ways in which French intellectuals understood the changing and intersecting relationships between France and Germany, France and Alsace-Lorraine, and France and Africa during the early twentieth-century expansion of the French empire. The body of the text analyzes the interdisciplinary discussions of Paul Desjardins, Charles Gide, and their academic and activist colleagues at the Union pour la vérité (Union for Truth) and its Libres entretiens (Open Conversations) in the immediate aftermath of the First and Second Moroccan Crises. Focusing on the Union's 1905–1906 and 1912–1913 debates over the issues of nationalism, internationalism, imperialism, and colonization provides a new understanding of the relationship between French national identity and French imperial identity. The conclusion explains how and why this group of largely progressive French political analysts simultaneously rejected German expansion into France and justified French expansion across the African continent.

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A French place without a cheese

Problems with heritage and identity in northeastern France

Paola Filippucci

In France, the classic produit du terroir, the local product that with its mix of skill and raw materials embodies the distinctive tie between people and their terroir (soil), is cheese. Thus, when inhabitants of the Argonne say that it “does not even have a cheese”, they imply that it lacks a patrimoine (cultural heritage). On the other hand, they do make passionate claims about 'being Argonnais', conveying a marked recognition of, and attachment to, a named place in relation to which they identify themselves and others. Focusing on this paradox, this article will highlight certain assumptions regarding the definition of cultural heritage found in public policy.

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On Counterrevolution

Semantic Investigations of a Counterconcept during the French Revolution

Friedemann Pestel

After 1789, counterrevolution emerged as revolution’s first counterconcept in French political discourse. While scholars of the French Revolution commonly associate counterrevolution with a backward-oriented political program, often with the restoration of the ancien régime, this article challenges such a retrograde understanding. Drawing on a broad corpus of sources, it emphasizes the flexible and pluralistic meanings of counterrevolution during the 1790s. Rather than designating a political objective, counterrevolution first of all focused on the process of combating the revolution as such, which allowed for different political strategies and aimed beyond a return to the status quo ante. By discussing, next to the French case, examples from the Haitian Revolution, Britain, Germany, and Switzerland, this article also highlights the transnational dimension of the debate on counterrevolution. It concludes with a plea for rethinking counterrevolution as revolution’s asymmetric other in a more relational rather than dichotomous perspective.