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Democratizing France

Democratizing France
The Political and Administrative History of Decentralization

$129.00 (C)

  • Date Published: March 1991
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521391566

$ 129.00 (C)

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About the Authors
  • The focus of this book is on the decentralization reforms legislated by the Socialist government in France from 1982 to 1986. These reforms redefined the role of the central state in the periphery and gave extensive new powers to territorial governments. In order to more fully assess the causes and effects of this recent decentralization, Vivien Schmidt examines these reforms and their impact in comparative historical perspective. The first part of the book traces the history of decentralization from the French Revolution to the present, highlighting the significant reforms at the beginning of the Third Republic in the 1870s. The second part of the book analyzes the actual impact of the reforms of both the 1870s and the 1980s on local government institutions and processes. Professor Schmidt uses an innovative mix of methods borrowed from political sociology and cultural anthropology, combined with historical analysis and extensive interviews of national and local politicians and civil servants. Her analysis allows her to explain how in a governmental system as formally centralized as that of France, local officials nevertheless managed to develop informal rules that gave them more power than the laws allowed. The Socialists in the Fifth Republic, she explains, formalized this previously established informal system. The book provides important new theoretical insights into the changing nature of the French state in addition to revealing significant historical patterns, particularly in the parallel between the role of decentralization in the Third and Fifth Republics.

    Reviews & endorsements

    "As a richly detailed and clearly argued account and interpretation of recent events, this work surely warrants the attention of historians." American Historical Review

    "Democratizing France is a balanced and thorough analysis of the Socialist local government reforms...historically informed...The book will become an indispensable reference for all serious students of French politics and administration." Social Science Quarterly

    "...a comprehensive and thoroughly documented treatment of decentralization--its history, its ideology, its political consequences, and its shortcomings. In its sweep and detail, it complements, updates, and goes beyond existing studies...." The Review of Politics

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 1991
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521391566
    • length: 420 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 27 mm
    • weight: 0.79kg
    • contains: 11 b/w illus. 18 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. The Political History of Decentralization from the French Revolution to the Present: Introduction: when political interest leads to disinterested politics
    1. The legislative history of recurring centralization from the French Revolution to the Third Republic
    2. The triumph of decentralization during the Third Republic
    3. The unsuccessful push for decentralization from the Fourth Republic through the conservative Fifth Republic
    4. Legislating decentralization in the administration of local government: the reforms of the socialist Fifth Republic
    5. Legislating decentralization in the politics of local government
    Part II. The Impact of Decentralization on Local Politics and Administration: Introduction: when informal rules become formal roles
    6. When informal rules counter formal roles: local government before the socialist reforms of the Fifth Republic
    7. Rhetoric versus reality in local government: local politics and administration before the socialist Fifth Republic
    8. When informal rules become formal roles: the new pluralism in the institutions and processes of local government
    9. Unblocking society by decree: the transformation of the politico-administrative system
    10. A new rhetoric and a new reality in local government: local politics and administration in the socialist Fifth Republic and beyond

  • Author

    Vivien A. Schmidt, University of Massachusetts, Boston

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