Fragmented France: Two Centuries of Disputed Identity

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For a thousand years France has struggled to impose unity upon its diverse components. For most of the time its leaders have sought to define its identity by opposition to the 'Anglo-Saxons': first England, then Britain and the USA. The prologue explores France's self-image by contrast with the Anglo-American counter-identity.

Part one deals with the unfinished Revolution from 1789 to 1878 when the Third Republic achieved relative stability. After examining the variety of symbolic representatives of Frenchness in the search for democratic legitimacy and national unanimity, the enduring divisions in French society are explained in their ideological, social, religious, territorial and political aspects. Emphasis is given to the role of writers and intellectuals in expressing these cleavages before analyzing how parliamentary democracy was established by the Third Republic.

Part two starts by relating French political paralysis to the slowness of socio-economic modernization before turning to the polarizing role of intellectuals in perpetuating varieties of Left and Right battles over who personified anti-France. The adversarial character of French party politics is then considered as it fluctuated up to the present in terms of the fragmented Left and Right, between the rhetorical revolutionary and reactionary extremes and the conservative or timidly reformist realities. The colonial and international role of France is described, stressing Franco-German European Union leadership. The protectionist aversion to competitive global capitalism results in reluctant adaption to forces beyond French control.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Hayward shows how competing visions of the nation across the political spectrum challenged the development of republican ideology, despite the efforts of politicians and thinks to construct a definition of the nation through selective memory and a sense of exceptionality...Offering an impressive synthesis of patterns in French history since the revolution, Hayward provides a provocative argument that rethinks assumptions about French identity and sheds light on contemporary debates within France about issues of immigration and nationhood."—CHOICE
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199216314
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 6/21/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Jack Hayward has taught Politics at the Universities of Sheffield, Keele, Hull and Oxford, retired in 1998 as Director of the Oxford Institute of European Studies and Professorial Fellow of St. Antony's College. Since then he has been a part-time Research Professor of Politics at the University of Hull. He has also been a Visiting Professor to several French Universities, for one year each at Sorbonne Nouvelle and the Paris Institute of Political Studies, as well as for shorter periods at the Universities of Bordeaux, Grenoble and Rennes.

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Table of Contents

List of Tables     viii
Introduction: The Anglo-American Counter-Identity     1
The Unfinished Revolution, 1789-1878
French Identity: The National Search for Retrospective Legitimacy and Unanimity     41
Intellectual Interpretations and Projections of the French Revolution     67
Tensions and Trajectories: The Constituents of French Exceptionalism     91
Enduring Conflicts and Elusive Consensus     119
A Liberal Democratic Republic Struggles to be Born, 1814-78     147
Selective Memory and Stalled Self-Scrutiny Since 1878
Institutional Immobilism, Ideological Ferment, and Reluctant Socio-Economic Modernization     183
Adversaries: Partisan Intellectuals and Polarized Political Culture     219
Adversaries: Polarized and Fragmented Party Politics of the Right     251
Adversaries on the Left: Revolutionary Rhetoric and Reformist Realities     285
Embattled Nation: Politicized Army, Imperial Decolonization, and European Integration     315
Diluting French Political Culture with European Social Liberalism     343
Epilogue: Confronting the National Identity Crisis     371
Index     375
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