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PA - C8 - HFC556 : Introduction to French Politics

Domaine > Humanité et sciences sociales.

Descriptif

Introduction to French Politics

 

Political science is interested in highlighting regularities that cross the political lives of the different countries observed. This is why although we will favor French political life we will also call on foreign examples to see how we all belong to close political worlds.

From India, the Philippines, Turkey, Algeria, Lebanon, Eastern Europe, United States (?), elected rulers seem by a series of measures to hollow out democracy. In the West, populist movements have seized power or are about to and are on the road to Un-freedom. Liberal democracy does not appear anymore like the wave of the future. Democracy may be at risk itself. A new vocabulary appears to qualify this evolution. Experts speak of illiberal democracy, authoritarian regime, democracy without rights (!). For these same experts, the classification of political regimes is being reworked. The gradation between liberal and illiberal democracy is replacing the old classification of political regimes firmly divided between liberal democracies and totalitarian regimes. But what saps democracy from inside? Classic democracy is wilting away with the implicit agreement of the population! 

To put back democracy on the up depends of the quality of the rulers, of the capacity of the society to feed off each other, of a shared vision of the future. Nothing is written in advance in France like in others countries even if representative self-government is at a current inflexion point.

 

Advanced course on French Politics.

 

This advanced course in political science on France follows up from our introductory course in French politics. That allowed us to highlight the crisis in political representation that affects our political system and Western political systems. But the

crisis is not limited to political systems stricto-sensu because even electoral victory no longer gives the elites the right to govern. That is the first meaning of the expression « crisis of representation » that we have studied, the mistrust between elites and people and how this fact changed the whole political system and the functioning of political democracy in the past ten years. 

This second course focuses on a second level of mistrust. It is the fact that citizens of a state today don’t consider belonging to the same society obvious because what binds them together is no longer something out of a discussion, something non questionnable as before. The idea to gather under a common roof whose framework is made of common values, a shared territory and a past made up of memories common to all generations, is no longer shared evidence. How did we get there? How did doubt about what constitutes a nation spread in our minds? How does that change in our representations of our own society affect our conception of politics? My answer which is also the subject of this second course is that the work of deconstruction of our social representations undertaken in the social sciences concerning in particular our vision of national history and geography, has greatly contributed to redefining our relationship with the collective.

For many commentators, the academic work of deconstructing national prejudices would speed up the withdrawal of individuals into the private sphere and the reduction of politics to defending the interests of affiliated communities. Should we worry about the evolution of the loss of the spontaneous sense of the collective? Or should we on the contrary think that the distance taken from the idea of nation protects us from a return to nationalism and promotes a more open democracy, more welcoming to all minorities? How do these conflicting points of view innerve the democratic debate in France ? We incline that this way of distancing the idea of nation is neither reserved to French society, nor only to Western societies but is and will be a world evolution. This new representation of what a nation should be is one of the main question of the political science for the coming years.

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