Democracies in Flux: The Evolution of Social Capital in Contemporary Society

By Robert D. Putnam | Go to book overview

4
FRANCE:
Old and New Civic
and Social Ties
in France
JEAN-PIERRE WORMS

As in most other developed countries, questions are repeatedly being asked in France about threats to its social cohesion and challenges to its democratic ideals. French people commonly denounce the pressures of globalization and individualism for eroding civic and social ties. Many within France feel that the country is particularly vulnerable because such erosion primarily attacks the two structural elements pivotal for its republican model and for its internal and external security: the state and salaried employment.

The French nation-state is more than a thousand years old, the oldest in Europe. For ten centuries, in every circumstance of a turbulent history, subjection of all citizens to identical administrative constraints of the state machinery was relied upon to unify the nation: same taxation, same judiciary, same public services and utilities, same rights and duties for every citizen everywhere. The degree to which centralized political power and homogeneous administrative rules served as instruments of national unity has not been equaled anywhere, and Tocqueville aptly noted that replacing a monarchy by a republic only accentuated this distinctive feature of France. Thus today, the fact that France has based the foundations of its national identity, the structure of its civil society and the conditions of its sovereignty on the dignity and power of the state is undisputed by critics and supporters of the French republican model alike.

-137-

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Democracies in Flux: The Evolution of Social Capital in Contemporary Society
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Democracies in Flux 1
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - The Role of Government and the Distribution of Social Capital 21
  • 2 - Bridging the Privileged and the Marginalized? 59
  • 3 - From Membership to Advocacy 103
  • 4 - Old and New Civic and Social Ties in France 137
  • 5 - The German Case 189
  • 6 - Social Capital in Spain from the 1930s to the 1990s 245
  • 7 - Social Capital in the Social Democratic State 289
  • 8 - Making the Lucky Country 333
  • 9 - Broadening the Basis of Social Capital in Japan 359
  • Conclusion 393
  • Notes 417
  • Contributors 493
  • Index 497
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