The French Civil Service: Bureaucracy in Transition

By Walter Rice Sharp | Go to book overview

THE FRENCH CIVIL SERVICE: BUREAUCRACY IN TRANSITION

CHAPTER I THE SETTING OF THE PROBLEM

"The functionary is the curse of France, but who will be bold enough to apply the guillotine?" -- SISLEY HUDDLESTON, France, p. 587.

Nowadays it is commonplace to regard administration as the essential stuff of which the fabric of the modern State is woven. Yet, as Graham Wallas has reminded us, democracy does not interest itself so much in the processes of administration as in the broad results of governmental action. This attitude constitutes a very real difficulty when the specialist inside or outside public office seriously attempts to improve the technique of political administration. All pioneers in the effort somehow to evolve a "science" of public affairs have run into this indifference of the citizenry not only to the "anatomy," but to the "physiology" of public administrative systems. If popular inertia and apathy all too often block the path of students of public administration in a relatively new country like America, the situation is doubly exasperating in an old, traditionalist nation like France. A study of administrative practices in such a country becomes all the more instructive and fascinating: instructive because of the generations of experience that lie behind what one discovers, fascinating because the exploration of what is there is baffling in its complexity.

We are to embark upon an analysis of the civil service of the French Republic. If the importance of our study be granted, the method we shall follow requires some explana-

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