Frédéric Sawicki, Targeted Door-to-Door Canvassing and the Parti socialiste’s Political Culture
In the last few years the French Socialist Party has added door-to-door canvassing to a repertoire of electoral campaigning techniques it has been relying on since the 1970s. Though long considered ineffective, door-to-door canvassing has recently become a more rationalized, scientifically-based, technique, and is now highly regarded in the party. This article analyzes why. It shows how the adoption of this method coincides with a decline in the connection between party activists and local voter constituencies. It also evaluates how effective the new door-to-door canvassing has actually been. Given the paucity of party activists who are firmly anchored in the non-affluent communities the party draws on for its voters, the use of door-to-door canvassing risks exposing how wide the gap has become between the party and its electorate.
Keywords: French Socialist Party, political canvassing, political parties
Julien Talpin, Political Campaigns and Civic Culture: Comparing Canvassing and Party Structures in the French and American 2012 Presidential Campaigns
In 2012 the French Socialist Party imported the “Obama method” to organize the widest canvassing experiment of the country, leading to the victory of François Hollande. The direct transfer, as well as the wide similarity of practices on the ground, make these two campaigns a very good lens for comparing French and American civic culture. This article explores these two campaigns from a micro-sociological perspective, based on ethnographic studies carried out in Northern France and California in 2012. While door-to-door practices appear similar on the two sides of the Atlantic, they differ in terms of the room left for politics. While in France, party members politicized the interactions at the door and spoke politics all the time, American volunteers actively avoided it. This difference is linked to the underlying civic norms prevailing in both countries, but also to the party structures in which they take place. While the Obama campaign was carried out by paid organizers and “plug-in” volunteers, in France it was led by long-time party members. In the two cases, despite the intensive grassroots activities of the campaigns, participation has not empowered the participants, engagement appearing too superficial in the US or touching only highly politicized activists in France.
Keywords: campaigns, canvassing, civic engagement, elections, political party
Vincent Pons, Has Social Science Taken Over Electoral Campaigns and Should We Regret It?
Over the last fifteen years, social science has taken over electoral campaigns. While this revolution has taken place on a larger scale in the United States than in France, in both countries campaigning increasingly relies on experimental evidence and sophisticated data analytics. The first experimental results provided an invitation for political parties to give renewed attention to the mobilization of their supporters and to reach out to them through personal discussions. These recommendations were arguably also well-aligned with the democratic good. More recent behavioral findings may, however, facilitate voter manipulation. In addition, the increasing amount of individual-level data available to candidates makes it possible to identify and neglect voters unresponsive to campaign contacts, which may in the long-run increase political inequality. This situation calls for an increased focus in future experiments, to carefully identify methods that successfully include chronic non-voters in the electorate and engage them beyond the act of voting.
Keywords: data analytics, elections, electoral campaigns, persuasion, randomized experiments
Jelena Jovicic, La nostalgie, de la maladie au sentiment national [In French]
This article explores the epistemological and cultural evolution of nostalgia in nineteenth-century France, focusing on the crucial period (1850–1914) when the concept lost its medical meaning and embraced new cultural scenarios created by the rise of a modern nationalism and the perception of national territory. The analysis examines two major scientific discourses on nostalgia, medical and geographical, recognizing that these representational systems broadly exceed the limits of scientific logic and function as heterogeneous genres that include political, philosophical, and literary concerns of the period. By tracing the genealogy of the concept of nostalgia, the article establishes a relationship between the medical thesis and the work of Paul Vidal de la Blache, who is considered the founder of the discipline of modern geography in France. The article delves into the cultures of sensibility and explores the politics of feelings—areas of research that are quite relevant for our own nostalgic era.
Keywords: archeology of knowledge, geography, nation, nostalgia, politics of feelings
Félix Germain, Mercer Cook and the Origins of Black French Studies
In the 1930s, when scholars from both sides of the Atlantic did not see Frenchness and blackness as mutually-inclusive categories, Mercer Cook, a prolific African-American scholar and diplomat, laid the foundations of black French studies. His scholarship on black subjects in France and its colonies was both expository and critical. Unlike his contemporaries, he refused to let racism and ethnocentrism taint his research. He inscribed black intellectual life and black experience into the historical narrative of France, and he did so from the perspective of an outsider with insider connections. As an American, he distinguished himself from black authors and intellectuals from France and its former colonies, who typically injected a strong dose of political activism into their novels, poems, and essays. Simultaneously, the close friendships he maintained with African, Caribbean, and black French authors influenced his understanding of what we would now call black France.
Keywords: black French Studies, Mercer Cook
Nick Underwood, Dressing the Modern Jewish Communist Girl in Interwar Paris
By 1939, there were an estimated 150,000 immigrant Jews in Paris: half the entire Jewish population of France. More than seventy-five percent of them came from Eastern Europe. Scholarship on the immigrant Jewish community in Paris primarily focuses on the role that the Yiddish-language immigrant press played in demarcating political affiliation. Less explored, however, are the roles that the Yiddish press played in creating a Jewish community rooted in both French and Jewish cultural norms. This article analyzes Naye prese through its use of culture and gender constructs to understand more fully the larger implications of the Yiddish press in Paris.
Keywords: interwar, Jewish immigration, modern girl, Naye prese, Third Republic, Yiddish culture
Sarah Farmer, The Other House: The Secondary Residence in Postwar France
From the early 1960s to the mid-1980s, a revaluation of the French countryside as a site of leisure and as a place to imagine France’s rural past fueled an unprecedented boom in the ownership of peasant houses by urban dwellers for use as secondary residences. The rural résidence secondaire became a mass phenomenon and a paradoxical hallmark of the radical modernization of French society that had taken place during the years of rapid economic expansion dubbed the trente glorieuses. This article lays out the economic and social developments that made mass ownership of secondary houses possible and that stimulated the emergence of a market for old, often dilapidated, houses in rural areas. It also explores the affective needs and consumer desires that made fixing up a rundown peasant house or farm building compelling for so many city dwellers and a lasting feature of French postwar culture.
Keywords: architectural restoration, résidences secondaires, rural tourism, secondary residences, trente glorieuses
Michael Spanu and Jean-Marie Seca, Pratiques linguistiques et usages de l’anglais dans les musiques électro-amplifiées en France: le cas des spectacles à L’International [In French]
English is often considered as the traditional language of rock, but one can describe its use in French music through subjective, intimate, and negotiated processes. French bands use it primarily to express a contentious relationship to French, but also to somehow reject the market of mainstream French music. These attitudes have repercussions for creative processes as well as for the circulation of emerging musical productions. While the choice of English seems appropriate in the context of digital globalization, it is still quite problematic when it comes to meeting a local audience. In this article, we describe how the use of this language has partially been established by the distinctive features of a concert venue (L’International), where bands try to start their career. We then attempt to understand the aesthetic, social, expressive, strategic, and ideological functions of language in the music of the bands in question.