3rd Edition

French Politics and Society

By Alistair Cole Copyright 2017
    342 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    342 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    French Politics and Society is the ideal companion for all students of France and French politics with a strong reputation for its lucidity and lively exposition of the French polity. This third edition remains a highly readable text and offers a broad, critical and comprehensive understanding of French politics.

    The book provides an excellent description of French institutions and ensures readers access to background information through discussing historical developments, political forces, public policy, and the evolution of important aspects of French society.

    Key updates for the third edition include:

    • extensive updates including the Chirac, Sarkozy and Hollande presidencies;
    • inclusion of constitutional and state reform coverage since 2008;
    • the French party system and evolution of the French left and right;
    • more on France’s positioning with regards to Brussels and the impact of the European economic crisis.

    French Politics and Society is essential reading for all undergraduates studying French politics, French studies, European studies or comparative politics.

    Part I Introduction

    1 The making of modern France

    1.1 Introduction

    1.2 The ancien régime

    1.3 The French Revolution: the making of modern France

    1.4 The French Revolution: a divisive heritage

    1.5 The Third Republic, 1870–1940

    1.6 Vichy and the French Resistance 1940–4

    1.7 The Fourth Republic 1944–58

    2 France since 1958

    2.1 Introduction

    2.2 De Gaulle’s republic

    2.3 May ’68: the Fifth Republic in crisis

    2.4 Georges Pompidou, 1969–74: the acceptable face of Gaullism?

    2.5 Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, 1974–81

    2.6 François Mitterrand, 1981–8: the chameleon

    2.7 Mitterrand’s second term, 1988–95

    2.8 Jacques Chirac, 1995–7: the abrupt presidency

    2.9 Jospin and the plural left coalition, 1997–2002

    2.10 Chirac’s second term, 2002–7

    2.11 Nicolas Sarkozy’s fast presidency, 2007–12

    2.12 François Hollande’s ‘normal’ presidency, 2012–17

    2.13 Concluding remarks

    3 French political culture: representations and realities

    3.1 Political culture in France: the traditional reading

    3.2 A divided France? Post-revolutionary political culture(s)

    3.3 Exceptionalism, decline and revival

    3.4 Concluding remarks

    Part II Institutions and power

    4 Presidents and prime ministers

    4.1 Introduction

    4.2 Political leadership in the French Republican tradition

    4.3 The 1958 constitution

    4.4 The French presidency

    4.5 Presidential style

    4.6 Presidential resources

    4.7 Prime-ministerial political leadership

    4.8 Changing temporalities of French politics: towards a fast presidency?

    4.9 Concluding comments

    5 Checks and balances?

    5.1 Introduction

    5.2 The evolving constitution

    5.3 The French parliament

    5.4 The organisation of the French parliament in the Fifth Republic

    5.5 Parliament in the Fifth Republic: an emasculated legislature?

    5.6 Political dynamics and the operation of parliament

    5.7 The judicialisation of French politics?

    5.8 Concluding remarks

    6 Reforming the state

    6.1 Introduction

    6.2 The French civil service: characteristics, context and culture

    6.3 Reforming the French state: the public-service narrative

    6.4 Reforming the French state: the state-productivity narrative and its limits

    6.5 The French state today: continuity, conflict, cohesion

    6.6 Concluding comments

    7 A decentralised republic in a unitary state? Local and regional government

    7.1 Introduction

    7.2 From the French model of territorial administration to the decentralised republic

    7.3 Actors and institutions of territorial governance

    7.4 Dimensions and dilemmas of territorial governance

    7.5 Concluding remarks

    Part III Political forces and representation

    8 The French party system: change and understanding change

    8.1 Introduction

    8.2 The French party system before 1981

    8.3 The changing French party system

    8.4 Cohesion and continuity of the French party system

    8.5 Concluding remarks

    9 French parties today

    9.1 Introduction

    9.2 The Republicans and their allies

    9.3 Socialists, Communists and Greens

    9.4 The Front National

    9.5 Concluding remarks

    10 The representation of interests

    10.1 Introduction

    10.2 Economic interest groups

    10.3 Social movements old and new

    10.4 Groups and the French political system

    10.5 Concluding remarks

    Part IV Reshaping modern France

    11 Society, citizenship and welfare

    11.1 Introduction

    11.2 The evolution of French society: social consensus or social fracture?

    11.3 The economy and economic governance

    11.4 Social policy, the welfare state and the French social model

    11.5 Concluding remarks

    12 The Republican model of citizenship and its limits

    12.1 Introduction

    12.2 The French Republican tradition

    12.3 The Republican model and the challenges of multiculturalism

    12.4 The Republican tradition and the challenge of territory: the case of lesser used languages

    12.5 Multiple identities in contemporary France: a case study from Brittany

    12.6 Concluding remarks

    13 Europe and Europeanisation

    13.1 Introduction

    13.2 France and the European Union

    13.3 Quelle finalité européenne? The French vision of Europe

    13.4 France and Europeanisation

    13.5 Concluding remarks

    14 The Republic in danger?

    14.1 Timeless institutions?

    14.2 The Republic in danger!

    14.3 The danger of hysteresis


    Alistair Cole is Professor of Comparative Politics at the Institute of Political Studies, Lyon, France and Professor of European Politics at Cardiff University, UK. He has published extensively in the field of French and comparative European politics.

    Praise for the previous edition:

    ‘Cole has achieved the rare feat of producing a study of French politics and society that is both an invaluable tool for teaching and an impressive contribution to the ability of his fellow-academics to interpret the factors that shape France currently, and that will do so in the foreseeable future.’ Gino Raymond, University of Bristol, UK

    Praise for this edition:

    ‘A very welcome revised and updated edition of this essential textbook which addresses many enduring questions about France and poses new ones. Alistair Cole draws on his incomparable knowledge of French politics and society to offer wide-ranging and accessible factual coverage blended with fine insights and analyses. A must-have book for students of modern and contemporary France.’ James Shields, Aston University, UK

    ‘This new edition of Alistair Cole’s classic book is to be greatly welcomed. The fully revised and updated edition of French Politics and Society remains a fresh and exciting text that combines a broad empirical scope with a clear thesis about the direction of Contemporary France. It is invaluable for students and scholars alike.’ Jean-Michel Eymeri-Douzans, Sciences Po, Toulouse, France.

    ‘The 3rd edition of French Politics and Society provides a highly readable introduction that covers all the bases. It provides a quick primer on the country’s history and a deeper understanding of its institutions, while also engaging hot-button contemporary issues. This book offers a terrific overview for students of France.’ Erik Bleich, Middlebury College, USA.