In this volume, distinguished French and U.S. historians, economists, and political scientists explore the dimensions of France's current crisis of identity. Although every European nation has been adjusting to the dramatic transformations on the continent since the end of the Cold War, France's struggle to adapt has been particularly difficult. Responding to a mix of external and internal pressures, the nation is now questioning many basic assumptions about how France should be governed, what the objectives of national policies should be, and ultimately what it means to be French. Rather than focusing explicitly on the problem of identity, the contributors offer differing perspectives on the issues at the heart of the country's debate about its future. They begin by examining how France's historical legacy has influenced the way the nation confronts contemporary problems, giving special attention to the manner in which past traumatic experiences, socioeconomic and cultural traditions, and the belief in French exceptionalism have shaped current political thinking. They then consider how favoring a more open approach to trade and building a strong franc have changed the culture of economic policy and created dilemmas for the rule of the state as a guarantor of welfare. They go on to explore changes in elite structures, the evolution of the party system, and the spillover of new political conditions that are driving France's efforts to establish a strong national identity in the area of trade. Finally, the contributors examine the central influence of the changing international framework on France's self-definition, on its security policies, its relationship to the European Union, and its basic perceptions of the state and sovereignty. They also consider how the answers to these questions are affecting France's relationships with the outside world and the overriding policy dilemmas faced by all the European nations.
Remaking the Hexagon -- The Weight of History in France Today -- The Legacy of Traumatic Experiences in French Politics Today -- The France We Have Lost: Social, Economic, and Cultural Discontinuities -- Democratic Dysfunctions and Republican Obsolescence: The Demise of French Exceptionalism -- Challenges to French Economic Order -- The Franc Fort Strategy and the EMU -- France and Global Competition -- From Barre to Balladur: Economic Policy in the Era of the EMS -- Social Change and Political Institutions -- Change and Stability in French Elites -- The Reconstruction and De-Construction of the French Party System -- Trade and Identity: The Coming Protectionism? -- France in the New Europe -- France and Security in the New Europe: Between the Gaullist Legacy and the Search for a New Model -- French Identity and Post-Cold War Europe -- Thoughts on Sovereignty and French Politics