Aspects of Contemporary France

Aspects of Contemporary France

Aspects of Contemporary France

Aspects of Contemporary France

Synopsis

France is defined by claims of uniqueness made by or about the French. Aspects of Contemporary France illuminates the contemporary economic, cultural, political and social climate of France. Using a multidisciplinary approach, this book explains the historical background to controversial issues. It also traces France's road to nationhood through religion, language and territory.Each chapter is by a specialist in the field and is based on the most up to date information and research. Beginning with the present day, the book traces the historical background to events and provides a context for evaluation. The wide-ranging and varied themes covered include:* political parties* regions in the market place* television and film* women* secularism and Islam* linguistic policies* French consumersThe book also offers a helpful chronology at the end of each chapter, a detailed bibliography and a recommended reading list. Aspects of Contemporary France presents an analytical as well as informative appraoch to French Studies. It provides a readily accessible but in-depth understanding for students of France or French civilization at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Excerpt

This book is designed for those who require a readily accessible but in-depth understanding of contemporary France. It consists of a series of discrete chapters each dealing with a different theme. As the title indicates, the book is in no way exhaustive in its coverage of contemporary France, concentrating instead on certain aspects, but an attempt has been made to make the themes wide-ranging and varied, viewed from a multidisciplinary perspective (economic, cultural, political and social). The choice of subjects—always controversial in a book of this nature—has been guided by the desire to break down two potential barriers to understanding. On the one hand, we have sought to highlight those issues which have been contentious in recent years, where polemic and debate may appear confusing to the uninitiated; on the other, we have chosen those aspects which might in some way appear to be characteristically French, either because France does differ from other nations, and so the foreign observer needs guidance, or because the French themselves claim distinctiveness, with what they call l’exception française, and examination of the claim is called for. Each chapter seeks to present the main issues of current debate in the given subject and analyse and explain their historical development to the present day. In this way we have sought to combine extensive coverage of aspects of contemporary France with detailed and analytical coverage of the main issues.

Each chapter begins with the present day—in some cases with a specific event which crystallises the issues—as it is this which we seek to explain and make accessible to the reader; the chapter then traces the background which will clarify the events and provide a context in which they can be evaluated. In line with this belief that contextualisation is the key to understanding, an introductory chapter on ‘France in the Making’ looks at France’s less recent past, to set the themes covered by the succeeding chapters in a longer-term perspective, tracing in particular France’s road to nationhood through religion, language and territory.

For the fact is that the nation we refer to as France, and the people we call the French, have only existed in their current form for a very brief period of history, and modern-day French identity has been constructed through . . .

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