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HSS - Cours - HSS101 : Major Issues in Today s World and the Place of France

Domaine > Humanités et sciences sociales.


Friday, 8:30/10:30, Amphitheatre Cauchy

Pr Nicolas Roussellier

Major Issues in Today’s World and the Place of France


The course is designed to give a broad and comprehensive view of the political and social place of France in today’s globalized world. Two themes will be addressed this year in order to understand the originality of French Politics. First, we will study the question of the French democracy and its difficulties. French Politics have gone through many different political regimes (Monarchy under different styles, two Bonapartist Empires, five different forms of Republic, Vichy’s Dictatorship) and recurrent upheavals from the Revolution of 1789 to the “Gilets Jaunes” of 2018. It is this “French instability” which is at the core of the First part of the course. Secondly, the course will address the issue of the French Secularism, the “laïcité à la française”. It was in the history and it is still today one of the great challenges of the French society and the French democracy.


Organization of the course

-          Two parts, one on the question of the French Democracy, one on the issue of French Secularism (“laïcité”)

-          8 Lectures on Part One with a Midterm exam

-          3 Lectures on Part Two (French Secularism)

-          Final Written Exam on both parts (Democracy and Secularism)


Sessions on ZOOM

Friday, 8:30 to 10:15

45 mn of Lecture on Zoom

15 mn of break

45 mn of discussion with questions by Zoom


Format des notes

Numérique sur 20

Littérale/grade américain

Pour les étudiants du diplôme Bachelor of Science de l'Ecole polytechnique

Vos modalités d'acquisition :


50% for the Midterm + 50% for the Final Exam

Le rattrapage est autorisé (Note de rattrapage conservée écrêtée à une note seuil de 10)
    L'UE est acquise si Note finale >= 10
    • Crédits ECTS acquis : 2 ECTS
    • Bachelor acquis : 2

    La note obtenue rentre dans le calcul de votre GPA.

    Pour les étudiants du diplôme Echanges PEI

    Vos modalités d'acquisition :


    50% for the Midterm + 50% for the Final Exam

    Le rattrapage est autorisé (Note de rattrapage conservée écrêtée à une note seuil de 10)

      Programme détaillé

      PART ONE: France, the Building of a Democracy


      Session # 1 (February, 14): Presentation of the Course + General Introduction


      No class on February, 21


      Session # 2 (February, 28): From Liberalism to Republicanism, France in the 19th c.



      Session # 3 (March, 06): Monarchism, nationalism: challenges to the Democracy



      Session # 4 (March, 13): The Military in the Republic



      SESSIONS BY REMOTE TEACHING (Lecture during 45 mn + 45 mn Forum of questions)


      Session # 5 (March, 27): Changing character of wars, changing character of Democracy


      Session # 6 (April, 03): From Liberal to Social Democracy: the age of the Welfare state


      Session # 7 (April, 10): Communism: an alternative to the Western Democracies?


      Session # 8 (April, 17): Issues and challenges for the Democracy in our time


      Session # 9 (April, 24): Midterm exam on Part One (series of 3 short questions): 1 hour


      No class on May, 1 and 8



      PART TWO: French Secularism: a short history of the French “laïcité”

      Normal sessions (to be confirmed)


      Session # 10 (May, 15): French laïcité from the Old Regime to the Revolution


      Session # 11 (May, 22): French laïcité between the Concordate and the Separation


      Session # 12 (May, 29): French laïcité in our time: new issues, new controversies



      Short bibliography



      Jeremy D. Popkin, A History of Modern France, Routledge, 2012.


      Robert Elgie, Political Institutions in Contemporary France, Routledge, 2004

      Andrew Knapp, Vincent Wright, Government and Politics of France, Routldedge, 2006.

      Sudhir Hazareesingh, Political Traditions in Modern France, Oxford University Press, 1994.

      Pierre Rosanvallon, Democracy, Past and Future, Columbia University Press, 2007

      Nicolas Roussellier, La Force de gouverner. Le pouvoir exécutif en France, Gallimard, 2015


      Edward Berenson (ed.), The French Republic: History, Values, Debates, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 2011

      Baubérot (Jean), Histoire de la laïcité en France, PUF, Que sais-je ?, 5ème édition, 2010

      Scott (Joan), The Politics of the veil, Princeton University Press, 2007

      Durkheim (Emile), The Elementary Forms of Religious life (a classic)

      Philippe Portier, L’Etat et les religions en France, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2016.

      Veuillez patienter