Globalisation and the fracturing of french tradition: an assessment of the evidence
Berry, Helen (2005) Globalisation and the fracturing of french tradition: an assessment of the evidence In: 3rd International Conference on Globalisation and Resistance, 12 - 13 Mar 2005, Brighton, England. (Unpublished)
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France has a tradition of state influence in many spheres of life & not least in the economy. Colbertism dates back to Louis XIV- famous for the dictum: "L'Etat c'est moi";. It was reinforced by centralisation under Napoleon and became embedded in the French constitution and the French psyche. The idea that the state govern a meritocracy and ensure "liberte, egalite et fraternite” was built into the educational system of the 'grandes ecoles'; and was later reinforced with the establishment in 1945 of the ENA creating a technocratic elite which has governed France for decades. However, the final 'dirigiste' stand which was taken by Mitterrand in the form of an extensive programme of nationalisation in 1982 was partially derailed by the growing pressures of international competition and interdependence. This paper will examine the post-war era focussing on the nationalisation experience and analyse the extent to which France has retained a unique form of state influence in order to maintain social cohesion. It will identify changes in industrial structure and it will examine the evidence of social fracture as the pressures of globalisation have forced change. It will explore the state’s accommodation of the pressures in its attempt to change traditional structures and expectations. A final assessment of change will be posited in comparative indicators at national, European and global levels. The French model has long endured, but as ENA is transferred to the provinces how much longer will the state continue to be able to withstand the pressures of Anglo-Saxon capitalism?
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