Political Traditions in Modern France

Political Traditions in Modern France

Political Traditions in Modern France

Political Traditions in Modern France

Synopsis

This engaging new account of French politics takes an unconventional approach to its turbulent subject. Rather than seeing a political history of rupture and fragmentation, Hazareesingh emphasizes continuity, and shows how opposing parties and movements throughout French history have been brought together by ideas.
Treating French political history from 1789 to the present, Hazareesingh focuses on the relationship between ideologies and political movements. He covers all the important features of French public life in the period, including the nature of republicanism, nationalism, and religion and the role of intellectuals. These features in turn provide the setting for his treatment of peace movements and the political traditions of liberalism, socialism, Gaullism, and communism.
Written in a clear and accessible style, this book will be invaluable guide to French politics for students and scholars and an informative introduction for general readers interested in France.

Excerpt

This book aims to introduce its readers to the underlying structure of political and intellectual life in modern France in a way which differs slightly from the narratives of conventional textbooks. Its focus is thematic rather than chronological but, at the same time, considerable weight is assigned to examining the formative impact of history on French public life. The analysis is also distinctive in that it takes political groups and movements as its principal subjects rather than the institutions of central government (with the exception of Chapter 6) or such other forms of organized public activity as trade unions and interest groups. Furthermore, it highlights the importance of ideology but stresses the role of ideological concepts in creating elements of consensus and accommodation between competing political forces, rather than division and fragmentation. This account thus concentrates on three interrelated aspects of the French public realm: the character of political movements, the role performed by ideological concepts, and the significance of historical continuities in shaping lines of political division. The relationship between these three features is explored through the overarching concept of a political tradition, a term whose substance and analytical value is examined in depth in the first chapter. This account is then followed by separate chapters on the political roles of intellectuals; the ideologies of republicanism, religion and clericalism, and nationalism; and the functions and underpinnings of the state. These chapters provide the broad setting for concluding accounts of peace movements, and the political traditions of liberalism, socialism, Gaullism, and communism. Each chapter is followed by a brief chronology; short bibliographies are provided at the end of the book as a guide for further reading.

The approach adopted in analysing these political traditions makes no particular claim to originality. Indeed, its central assumptions about the nature of politics are in many respects old-fashioned. Every chapter suggests that the substance of political ideas cannot be appreciated unless they are given an adequate context; that the character of public . . .

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