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La course au centre

Policy Convergence and Partisanship in France, 1981-2002

Sally Marthaler

Policy convergence between the political parties and the perception among voters that there is little to choose between left and right may be factors in the declining levels of partisanship observed in many advanced industrial democracies, including France, where these conditions emerged in the 1980s. Drawing on both quantitative and qualitative data, this article analyzes changes in the actual and perceived level of convergence between the mainstream parties in France from 1981 to 2002. It finds evidence of increasing policy convergence over the period as a result of a combination of endogenous and exogenous factors. It concludes that left-right ideological labels are still important to voters, even though they too have moved to the center, and that many of them want to see a clear dividing-line between the parties. The blurring of the boundaries between left and right and the “reversibility” of the mainstream parties has also enhanced the appeal of alternative and extremist parties.

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L'Express et l'espace après Apollo 11

La dramaturgie du récit journalistique à l'épreuve du spatial

Jérôme Lamy

This article examines the treatment of outer space in the French weekly magazine L'Express from 1969 to 2009. After the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, space was essentially analyzed from the perspective of geopolitics: International tensions, the Cold War, and the emergence of an integrated Europe served as prisms through which the subject of outer space was explored. After the Challenger crash in 1986, thinking about space took on a more commercial orientation; business, trade, and competition became a powerful frame of reference. At the same time, ecological concerns emerged to reinforce a negative view of space exploration. Space debris and the decline of utopian expectations became recurring themes. This cultural history of disenchantment over space reflected both a scaling back of Promethean ambitions and the assimilation of space into everyday life.

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Roll Out the Barrel

French and Algerian Ports and the Birth of the Wine Tanker

Owen White

When shipping companies first experimented with transporting wine in steel containers in the 1930s they promised to revolutionize the way French Algeria sent its most important export to metropolitan France. What capitalists saw as a rational and efficient use of new technology, however, dockworkers and barrelmakers saw as a dire threat to their livelihoods in a time of intense economic hardship. This article traces the social conflict that followed the introduction of the wine tanker and the declining use of wine barrels in port cities in both Algeria and France. In doing so it illustrates the wide range of people and places that held a direct stake in economic activity arising from France’s colonization of Algeria, from the rural environments in which wine was produced all the way to distant urban spaces such as Rouen.

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Dagmar Herzog

This article analyzes the evolution of sexual politics and cultures in post-unification Germany, tracing these through three stages. First is the more immediate aftermath, in the early to mid 1990s, of ostalgische consternation over the loss of what Easterners understood to be the special qualities of GDR sexual culture, analyzing this consternation in the context of the—mutually conflicting—fantasies that Easterners and Westerners had about each other, replete with Easterners' ideas about how capitalism deforms interhuman interactions and Westerners' ideas about the deformations caused by totalitarian surveillance. A second stage runs from the mid 1990s through to the early twenty-first century, and includes both the convergence between East and West on the governmental policy level and the growing similarities identified in Easterners' and Westerners' sexual habits and mores. The third stage concerns the more recent past of the last five years and emphasizes the paradoxical coexistence of, on the one hand, strong commitment (on both the governmental and popular levels) to liberal values of individual sexual self-determination and toleration of diversity and a general sex-positive climate with, on the other, tremendous anxiety about the rise of European Islam (with its purportedly intrinsic hostility to both homosexuality and female sexual independence) and about the precipitous decline of the German birthrate. Attention is also paid to the newest policy directions with regard to adolescent sexuality and age of consent laws, abortion access, and disability rights.

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Colonial Whips, Royal Writs and the Quaker Challenge

Elizabeth Hooton's Voyages through New England in the Seventeenth Century

Susanna Calkins

In their journeys to New England, Hooton and other Quakers tested both the colonial and royal authorities. When Hooton travelled to the colonies, she deliberately positioned herself within the developing philosophical, ideological and psychological transatlantic divide. With a royal permit in hand that enabled her to settle wherever she chose within the colonies, Hooton purposely attempted to live in the Bay Colony, where four Quakers had lost their lives at Boston Common. As such, Hooton personified the struggle for power between New England and the royal authorities, as each side attempted to mandate the extent and breadth of sovereignty in the colonies. Hooton used her journeys to New England to legitimate her authority to speak about colonial anti-Quaker legislation and to add her voice to a growing chorus attempting to shape royal policies. Ultimately, Hooton's journeys illustrate the gradual decline of royal power in the colonies. While the final break between England and the colonies would not occur for another hundred years, a contest for power that probed the extent of royal power was exploited and made evident by the journeys and experiences of Quakers like Elizabeth Hooton.

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Christopher S. Allen

For much of the past two decades since unification, the literature on the German economy has largely focused on the erosion of the German model of organized capitalism and emphasized institutional decline and the corresponding rise of neoliberalism. The first part of the article analyzes the strains unification placed on German economic performance that caused many observers to call for modification of the model in a more neo-liberal direction. The second part takes a different focus and lays out the main rationale of the paper. It inquires why such a coordinated market economy was created in the first place and whether a renewed form of it might still be useful for Germany, the European Union, and other developed democracies in the early twenty-first century. The third section articulates the origins of the institutional and ideational components of these coordinated market economy models, during both the Bismarckian and Social Market Economy periods. The final portion inquires whether the failure of the contemporary liberal market economy approach in the wake of the worldwide financial crisis and severe recession represents a possible opening for the creation of a third coordinated market economy not only for Germany but for a redesigned European Union.

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Karen Schönwälder and Triadafilos Triadafilopoulos

This article probes the consequences of Germany's 1999 citizenship reform as it pertains to the incorporation of immigrants. We maintain that the law's principled rejection of dual citizenship and related stipulation that children born into German nationality via the law's revolutionary jus soli provision choose between their German citizenship or that of their non-German parents between the ages of eighteen and twenty-three is unfair, potentially unconstitutional, and likely unworkable in administrative terms. We also argue that the decline in naturalization rates in Germany since 2000 is due to a combination of legal, administrative, and symbolic barriers in the law, as well as a lack of incentives for naturalization for immigrants from European Union member states and other rich industrialized countries. We believe that progress in the area of incorporation will require a shift in outlooks on the part of German political elites, such that immigrants are seen as potential members of a diverse community of free and equal citizens rather than untrustworthy and threatening outsiders.

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Eunike Piwoni

There seems to be a wide consensus in the academic community that the Holocaust is gradually losing significance in the German public. This development is clearly reflected in public elite discourse on national identity, where “Holocaust-centered memory” has ceased to be hegemonic. In the literature, several interpretations and reasons have been presented to explain this development. This paper contributes to the debate by arguing that the declining presence of Holocaust-centered arguments in intellectual elite discourse on national identity is due to a new consensual idea of German nationhood. Based on an event-oriented discourse analysis of more than 800 articles in opinion-leading newspapers, journals and magazines covering a period of more than twenty years, I argue that in national identity discourse, the Holocaust has never been—as is usually assumed—a blockade to displays of national identity in general, but only to a specific interpretation of the German nation as a Volk and as an exclusionist culture nation. By contrast, the idea of nationhood that dominates in the German public sphere today, the civic nation model, has never invoked Holocaust-centered counter-arguments—not even in the Historikerstreit in the 1980s. Thus, over the past three decades, the way national identity discourse has operated might have changed less than had often been assumed. The central argument of this paper is that the Holocaust has become a “latent”—but not a less consequential—argumentative resource.

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Riccardo Rovelli

I shall approach the theme of this chapter bearing in mind two facts.

The first is that the worst post–World War II crisis in the world economy

has been halted, and we are slowly getting back to the surface.

The second is that Italy is a small, open, slow-growing economy with

little room to maneuver by itself and is part of a large, rich, open, and

most probably irresolute and relatively declining area of the world. Let

me clarify. The world economy has indeed been rescued. A wide range

of emergency measures have been adopted throughout the world to

arrest its descent along a downward spiral. Generally speaking, the

measures adopted were prompt, untested, and partial, and many went

against conventional wisdom. But they seem to have worked, which is

even more of a tribute to those who decided to adopt them. However,

rescue is not recovery. That will take more time and will be more difficult

to achieve, in part because during a recovery there usually is

much less pressure to act immediately.

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Jutta A. Helm

For more than a century, Germany has had a well-balanced system

of cities showcasing considerable variety in their social and physical

make-up. It has lacked spectacular global cities like New York,

Tokyo, or London. Instead, western cities include industrial cities

like those in the Rhine-Ruhr Valley and cities shaped by universities

and research (Göttingen or Freiburg), media and publishing (Hamburg),

culture and high-technology sectors (Munich), banking and

finance (Frankfurt/Main), wholesale trade and insurance (Cologne

and Düsseldorf), as well as government and administration (Berlin,

Bonn, and most state capitals). Dramatic social or economic crises

that generate debates about urban decline have not happened.

Thanks in part to effective urban governments, no German city has

come close to the near-collapse of American rustbelt cities during

the early 1980s, or the fiscal meltdown of New York City in the

1970s. Crime has been consistently lower and less violent, and the

American racial divide has no equivalent in German cities. East German

cities, while more unevenly developed, have been no less stable.

East Berlin was the dominant center, linked to the industrial

cities in the North (Rostock) and South (Leipzig, Halle, Dresden) by

a rather creaky infrastructure.