A leading indie group of the 1990s at the confluence of rockabilly, hip-hop and punk, rap, raï', salsa and many more styles, which they mix with panache. Singing in French, Arabic, English and Spanish, they are generous, unconventional and exuberant performers on the world circuit. Their latest products are Puta's Fever (1990) and Casa Babylone (1994).
See also: rock and pop
The manufacturing industry was the backbone of the thirty glorious years of French economic growth from 1945 to 1974; since then, however, a deep crisis has affected a number of 'traditional' industries, contributing to increasing unemployment and to the decay of regional infrastructure. Now the fourth industrial power in the world, France has developed some larger world-weight conglomerates, especially in the 1980s, but still lags behind European competitors in this respect.
Manufacturing, excluding activities such as energy and building, only accounts for one-fifth of France's national product and employment, and the sector has lost the leading role it had in the economy from 1945 to 1974. During that period, French society underwent deep material changes which helped the development of manufacturing industries catering for the new mass markets-cars, white and brown electrical goods, leisure goods-or infrastructures required by the postwar reconstruction and the sudden transformation of urban areas. France, which had long trailed behind other countries, then entered consumer society with a vengeance. After the 1974 crisis, however, manufacturing industry suffered a succession of problems, which resulted in the closure of many plants, with pockets of mass unemployment particularly concentrated in areas of old industry, such as the north or Lorraine, or in the industrial towns surrounding the Massif Central. In other cases, efforts to increase competitiveness brought considerable loss of jobs-the so-called dégraissage (slimming down). In the car industry, for instance, the Renault workforce went down from 223,000 to 138,000 employees between 1980 and 1994.
Manufacturing industry is highly diversified, from traditional shoemaking, say, to high-tech space electronics. Since the mid-1980s, firms have made considerable efforts to penetrate foreign markets, especially European ones. Indeed, some companies are true multinationals, but they are usually only mid-table in world size rankings.
Manufacturing in the past was concentrated in specific areas (the Vosges mountains for textiles mills; the Alpine valleys for aluminium; toy-making and watch assembly a speciality of farmers in the Jura...), because of either availability of natural resources or a skilled workforce. This regional distribution has changed dramatically. Regions of heavy traditional industries have suffered badly since the 1970s. Other regions, however, have benefited from recent development, such as those of Toulouse (home of the aerospace industry) or Grenoble, but localization of industries is now more flexible, and manufacturing employment less important than services.
See also: agriculture; economy; transport