French Politics Culture & Society (Fr Polit Cult Soc )

Publisher: Conference Group on French Politics and Society; New York University. Institute of French Studies; Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies (Harvard University)

Description

FPC&S is the journal of the Conference Group on French Politics & Society. It is jointly sponsored by the Institute of French Studies at New York University and the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University. French Politics, Culture & Society explores modern and contemporary France from the perspectives of the social sciences, history, and cultural analysis. It also examines the relationship of France to the larger world, especially Europe, the United States, and the former French Empire. The editors also welcome pieces on recent debates and events, as well as articles that explore the connections between French society and cultural expression of all sorts (such as art, film, literature, and popular culture). Issues devoted to a single theme appear from time to time. With refereed research articles, timely essays, and reviews of books in many disciplines, French Politics, Culture & Society provides a forum for learned opinion and the latest scholarship on France.

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  • Website
    French Politics, Culture and Society website
  • Other titles
    French politics, culture and society (Online), French politics, culture and society, FPC & S, Journal of the Conference Group on French Politics and Society, French politics, culture & society
  • ISSN
    1537-6370
  • OCLC
    49780402
  • Material type
    Document, Periodical, Internet resource
  • Document type
    Internet Resource, Computer File, Journal / Magazine / Newspaper

Publications in this journal

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    ABSTRACT: This article addresses the impact of the Franco-German couple on European integration since the Schuman Declaration. Based on qualitative research von Oppeln reveals that constructive influence only took place in the 80s; otherwise it was rather ambivalent or even negative. Five analytical approaches are used to define the variations in the Franco-German couple's level of influence: the different political stakeholders, the institutions involved, the main ideas and visions about European politics, the policy preferences, and the general external conditions. Ultimately, the conciliation of the German and French interests remains an indispensable condition for the success of European politics, but it has also become more and more elusive because of external factors such as EU enlargement. To overcome the recent deadlock the Franco-German couple needs to commit to the EU, foster cooperation between the main stakeholders, and conciliate different views and policies. French Les soubresauts du couple franco-allemand : Moteur ou Frein de l'intégration européenne ?
    French Politics Culture & Society 05/2011; 29(2):55-67.
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    ABSTRACT: The proposal of 9 May 1950 by Robert Schuman to put coal and steel industries under a common High Authority was a signal of reconciliation with the new Germany. General de Gaulle, in spite of his opposition to the federal perspective, decided to implement the Treaty of Rome (1957) establishing a common market between France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. The French presidents and the German chancellors maintained a strong relationship despite differences of views about British application, NATO, trade and monetary policies, institutional development and, more recently, the consequences of the collapse of the Soviet empire.
    French Politics Culture & Society 05/2011; 29(2):42-54.
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    ABSTRACT: This article examines the role played by the nòva cançon occitana (new Occitan song) in disseminating post-1968 regionalist ideologies, particularly the contention that Occitanie constituted an “internal colony” of France. While both the nòva cançon and the internal colonialism thesis proved instrumental in advancing the Occitanist cause, they also raised intractable problems. The depiction of Occitanie as a colonized territory consolidated a fragile sense of regional identity, but in so doing demanded that individuals repress the French dimensions of their identity. In addition, nòva cançon performers did not simply convey regionalist ideals through music, but were compelled to embody these ideals in their behavior, ideological stance, and self-presentation. To illuminate such tensions, the article considerers the controversy triggered when one Occitan singer-songwriter, Joan Pau Verdier, signed with an international label, thereby opening himself up to charges of having betrayed the Occitanist cause.
    French Politics Culture & Society 02/2011; 29(1):1-23.
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    ABSTRACT: 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.
    French Politics Culture & Society 11/2010; 28(3):66-73.
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    ABSTRACT: This article explores French attitudes about race during and after the years of the National Front's breakthrough by looking at French films and film reviews on the topic of interracial couples. In a country in which antiracists have been reluctant to legitimize the concept of race by talking about it, but in which the far Right has made gains by proclaiming its own views on race, French film-makers in the 1980s and after broached the topic in numerous films, but they often did so in ways that avoided controversy or serious reflection on current French racism. French critics of both French and American films featuring interracial couples also sidestepped the most explosive issues, revealing a disinclination to discuss a troubling and divisive concept, but also a persistent belief that racism remained an American problem and obsession.
    French Politics Culture & Society 11/2010; 28(3):46-65.
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    ABSTRACT: The French carbon tax was to become in 2010 the centerpiece of the country's new climate change mitigation strategy. After a heated public debate, the Constitutional Council, France's higher constitutional law body, censored the executive's proposal, which in turn, in the aftermath of a severe electoral defeat, announced the indefinite postponement of the carbon tax. This article tries to make sense of this important sequence in French contemporary public life by reviewing its different facets: environmental economics, political economy, constitutional law, and finally politics.
    French Politics Culture & Society 11/2010; 28(3):114-122.
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    ABSTRACT: The evolution of French culture from the late nineteenth to the early twenty-first century is described as a succession of three "cultural configurations": humanist (or literary/philosophical), scientific/organic, and industrial. The transformation of the culture is linked to changes in the educational system in response to France's altered place in the global order after 1945. French attitudes toward, and internal critiques of, the shifting cultural hegemony are examined as both causes and consequences of these evolving configurations.
    French Politics Culture & Society 11/2010; 28(3):97-113.
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    ABSTRACT: "Youth" was once defined as the 15 to 24 year old age group. Today in France one sees a "first youth" (dependent on family and school) and a "second youth" in their twenties sharply divided between a successful elite with top degrees (or family wealth) and a highly marginalized workingclass. Between these extremes, a middle group often experiences frustration and anomie when their university degrees fail to launch the careers they desired. A "third youth" of thirty-somethings has also emerged still dependent on their families and the state. The French corporatist welfare regime, moreover, makes women, immigrants, and the young structural outsiders who must compete harder than Caucasian middle-aged men for jobs. Setbacks early in life in the labor market have long-term consequences (scarring effects) both for individuals and for the birth cohort as a whole. The political consequences are difficult to forecast, but much of the recent political volatility in France can be traced to these generational dynamics and failure to integrate youth since the late 1970s.
    French Politics Culture & Society 11/2010; 28(3):74-96.
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    ABSTRACT: 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.
    French Politics Culture & Society 05/2010; 28(2):75-95.
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    ABSTRACT: Critics generally agree that Beauvoir's novel Les Mandarins, which won the Prix Goncourt in 1954, is an important work of historical fiction, chronicling the lives and loves of left-wing intellectuals in Paris during the years following World War II. In this essay I argue that Les Mandarins is as much about the war as about the postwar, and that its meaning for contemporary readers was deeply linked (even if not in a fully recognized way) to memories of the troubled period of the Occupation. I develop the concept of “ambivalent memory,” as it refers in particular to two of the most problematic aspects of that period: the role of the Vichy government in the persecution of Jews, and the ambiguities and disagreements concerning the Resistance. More generally, the novel raises questions about memory and its inevitable obverse, forgetting. It is from our own contemporary perspective, heavily informed by concerns over memory and World War II, that this aspect of Les Mandarins comes to the fore.
    French Politics Culture & Society 05/2010; 28(2):4-17.
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    ABSTRACT: The Confédération paysanne can be described as a marginal farmers' union that represents the vested interests of a tiny minority and that seems to swim against a tide of socio-economic change. At a time when France is increasingly integrated into a global economy, it calls for greater protectionism, a massive increase in state subsidies, and a closure of borders to trade. Yet, far from being dismissed as marginal or anachronistic, the Confédération, at the height of its influence, was hailed as a symbol of the “general interest” and gained the enthusiastic support of a majority of French citizens. In this essay, the author suggests that the success of the Confédération had little to do with conventional political or institutional patterns but was derived instead from its “symbolic power” and its capacity to transform its own cause into a metaphor for opposition to globalization. At a time of profound crisis, the Confédération was able to capture one of the nation's most enduring myths, laying claim to a whole symbolic universe linked to peasant farming. Whilst such symbolism is hardly new in the French context, the Confédération's particular skill was to counterpose this against a dominant image of neo-liberal globalization. It posited peasant farming as an antidote to all the evils of a globalizing world, one in which identity is reaffirmed, tradition is preserved and social bonds are restored.
    French Politics Culture & Society 05/2010; 28(2):96-117.
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    ABSTRACT: 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.
    French Politics Culture & Society 02/2010; 28(1):25-45.
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    ABSTRACT: As France wrestles over the uses and societal impact of digital media and the Internet, it is instructive to recall another era of communications innovation, namely the introduction of interwar radio to the French public, and the government's reaction to controversial applications by the citizenry. Recent scholarship has underscored the importance of interwar radio broadcasting to France and its territories. Less explored, however, is the work of amateur user/developers who shaped the radio medium as an instrument of speaking, as well as listening. Determined to manage applications of radio, the French Interior Ministry formed a Police de l'Air to monitor France's airwaves, including the activities of amateur radio users (i.e., hams), whose lawful (and sometimes unlawful) use of point-to-point and broadcast communication had begun to significantly disrupt the government's effort to dictate the future forms and uses of radio. Against a backdrop of political crisis and attempts to manage print and electronic communication and dissent, the skirmishes between the Police de l'Air and amateur radio users reveal historical aspects of contemporary debates over use, access, and qualifications to speak and be heard in mediated cultural and political settings.
    French Politics Culture & Society 02/2010; 28(1):1-24.
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    ABSTRACT: Lévi-Strauss considered that the birth of structuralism was mainly caused by his chance encounter with Roman Jakobson: the experience of war and exile had nothing to do with it. This article contends the opposite. It analyzes, from a sociological perspective, the articles Lévi-Strauss produced in New York in the 1940s. Focusing on political and cultural anthropology through the prism of primitive societies, these texts express in sociological terms Lévi-Strauss's self-representation, his hopes and strategies. He regards war as a moment in a cycle of reciprocal exchanges between groups. He sees power as the product of an ability to serve as an intermediary between groups and group members, and anthropological knowledge as the product of the social distance to groups necessary to compare their cultural models. Levi-Strauss's theories in exile are in affinity with his social position of a broker and intermediary between distant social groups among the French émigrés and between them and the Americans. Between the lines, all these formative texts show the efforts of Lévi-Strauss's consciousness to reverse the negative signs of his condition of exile. They played a role in the birth of structuralism even as they represent Lévi-Strauss's first auto-analysis (before Tristes Tropiques).
    French Politics Culture & Society 02/2010; 28(1):58-76.
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    ABSTRACT: Events surrounding Aimé Césaire's funeral in Martinique (April 2008) brought to the fore a number of unresolved contradictions that have swirled around his literary production, as well as his political legacy, for decades. Did Césaire really mean to speak for a culturally and historically determined group of dispossessed colonials and former colonials, as he often stated from the 1960s onward? Or did he intend to appeal to a biologically determined collective unconscious, as he sometimes stated in less guarded moments? Finally, should Césaire's ambiguous statements about the movement to require reparations from the French state for centuries of enslavement in the Antilles be taken as an endorsement of such demands? None of these questions were resolved in the flood of writing about Césaire's importance and significance in the year of his death.
    French Politics Culture & Society 11/2009; 27(3):9-18.
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    ABSTRACT: This article uses notes generated by France's surveillance of African and Afro-Caribbean migrants during the interwar years to analyze the use black men made of racial terms such as nègre and mulâtre. Although developed before the twentieth century, such racial language was infused with new political, social and cultural meaning after World War I. Workers and intellectuals, often at odds with each other, developed a race consciousness that was both a means of uniting in response to colonialism and a reaction against those within their communities who did not appear anti-imperial enough in their politics. Arguing that racial language expressed the nuances and range of black men's political and ideological stances with respect to the French Empire, this article traces the meanings granted to race and the important role in cultivating their significance played by members of organizations such as the Union des Travailleurs Nègres.
    French Politics Culture & Society 05/2009; 27(2):23-46.
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    ABSTRACT: Though it is generally agreed that André Siegfried (1875-1959) was one of the most enduring and influential French commentators on the United States between the 1920s and the 1950s, scholars do not agree on the extent to which he should be considered anti-American. This article concludes that while Siegfried found the American social model to be profoundly unsettling, and that his views of the country's population were consistently informed by racist assumptions, he also evinced some admiration for its economic dynamism and regarded it as a necessary if problematic partner. Moreover, for much of his career many American commentators regarded Siegfried as a perceptive and fair-minded observer of their country, though by the 1950s his racist views drew increasing criticism. Siegfried's career thus illustrates the complexities of French intellectual anti-Americanism.
    French Politics Culture & Society 05/2009; 27(2):1-22.
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    ABSTRACT: This article revisits the role that the concept of popular culture has played in Eugen Weber's Peasants Into Frenchmen and in the historiography of France. It delineates the contours of this field of study in the 1970s then traces its evolution, focusing on the nineteenth century. It also assesses Weber's contribution to this body of scholarship and considers future directions of research—and how his book may still prove helpful. The article proposes that, in terms of conceptualization, epistemological stance, and rhetorical voice, Peasants Into Frenchmen adopts two perspectives on popular culture, perspectives that are sometimes compatible but typically at odds. The first revolves around the confident discovery of a fixed traditional civilization in the French countryside; the second is a more conjectural search for fluctuating cultural processes. While commentators have focused on the first, the second foreshadowed later developments in the field and has more to offer us today.
    French Politics Culture & Society 05/2009; 27(2):94-110.
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    ABSTRACT: France's retro rock music (chanson néo-réaliste) of the 1990s and 2000s favors acoustic music and "old-fashioned" instruments such as the accordion in order to reject today's fascination with novelty and consumerism. In doing so, this music genre looks back to pre-war France and rehabilitates an all-white national culture that is problematically nostalgic, in a similar fashion to the film Amélie. This article explores the ways in which chanson néo-réaliste still manages to forge a sense of protest identity in contemporary France, while engaging in apparently reactionary tactics. The specificities of this music genre are explored through an analysis of the lyrics, music, iconography and performance of, primarily, the group Têtes Raides, while contrasting their nostalgia of "protest" with that of the more commercially successful genre of variétés.
    French Politics Culture & Society 05/2009; 27(2):47-62.

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