In Search of France

In Search of France

In Search of France

In Search of France

Excerpt

The hallmark of the period since World War II has been drastic change in the domestic order and international position of countries all over the world. In the vast regions of Asia, Africa, and Latin America this period has seen the birth of some fifty new nations and the beginning of an epic drive to modernize traditional societies. But the mature societies of Western Europe, long at the hub of international affairs, have also felt the impact of radical change. In less than two decades Europe has gone through a cycle from the postwar stagnation to the current dynamism. Diverse pressures have been reshaping societies, economies, and external relations. The nations of Western Europe have rapidly adapted to the conditions of the postwar world and are on the road to the creation of a European Community. These domestic and external changes are as sweeping as anything happening in the emerging continents of Asia and Africa.

The study of change in Western Europe, as in the developing countries, has been a part of the research program of the Harvard Center for International Affairs since its inception. It was early realized that a penetrating analysis of the interacting changes affecting Europe would require the pooling of the knowledge and insights of experts in domestic politics and foreign relations, economists, social historians, and sociologists. It was also felt that one fruitful approach, though not the only one, would be to analyze the experience of individual countries. The choice of France for the first such study was prompted by the presence in the Cambridge area of a number of well qualified specialists from different disciplines who were eager to undertake it together. Each, in the course of his own work, had come to feel the need for a reappraisal of the changing French situation. All recognized that "shocks" from outside France--the war, the defeat of 1940, the occupation and liberation--had shaken the foundations of pre-1939 France and had released forces pent-up for some years. But many questions re-

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