Resistance to change seems to be a deeply ingrained trait of French national character, and therefore traditional political accounts of France emphasize historical continuity. Yet, France has changed considerably in the past two decades, whether in economic, social, or political terms. This article reviews Changing France: The Politics That Markets Make and, beyond this book, asks how France has and has not been transformed. The central argument is that this change has taken place for the most part in the shadows instead of being publicized and debated. This has led to an overwhelming feeling of malaise in society and to a crisis of political representation.
Although culture is not at the heart of the policy agenda of the current French administration, it will likely be affected by the Sarkozy revolution. French culture seems to be in a state of crisis, as evidenced both by the end of its ‘rayonnement’ outside of France and by its diminutive focus on the producers instead of the consumers of cultural goods. The options available for reform can, paradoxically given France’s history of policy opposition to American culture, be inspired by what is done in the United States, as is suggested by Fre´de´ ric Martel’s 2006 book De la Culture en Ame´rique. A reform of French cultural policy would have implications both for foreign and for domestic policies.
This article examines how globalization and Europeanization interact with each other, either in a centrifugal or in a centripetal way, to alter French politics. It analyzes how globalization has redefined domestic politics in France and it explores whether Europeanization has accelerated or hindered these transformations. It studies in turn the impact of globalization and Europeanization on power, preferences and institutions — three essential components of a country’s domestic politics. The central argument is that globalization and Europeanization not only have transformed the nature of domestic politics, but are also becoming a new cleavage around which domestic politics are being structured.
Globalization and Americanization have often been intertwined and interchanged in the French political discourse. This article explores whether and how the election of Sarkozy, and then of Obama, are transforming this equation. The French obsession with globalization and Americanization was temporarily appeased at the time of the 2007 election, which enabled Sarkozy to come to power. Yet the French rapprochement with the US, at least on economic issues, is not so clear as has often been portrayed. However, the past couple of years have shown that globalization no longer equals Americanization. This should help mitigate the strains put on the Franco-American relationship by the world financial crisis.