Intellectuals, Culture and Public Policy in France

Approaches from the Left

Jeremy Ahearne

£75.00
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ISBN: 9781846312458

Publication: June 11, 2010

Series: Studies in Social and Political Thought 19

In the USA? Buy the Hardback US edition
French intellectuals have always defined themselves in political terms. They figure in common representation as oppositional figures set against State and government. But speaking truth to power is not the only way that intellectuals in France have brought their influence to bear upon political fields. Ahearne’s book explores a neglected dimension of French intellectuals’ practice. What happens when, instead of denouncing from without the worlds of government and public policy, French intellectuals become voluntarily, at least for a while, entangled within those worlds? After a historical and theoretical overview, the heart of the book is constituted by a series of case studies exploring policy domains in which strategies for shaping the broad ‘culture’ of France have been debated and developed. These comprise issues of laicity and secularization, reform of the educational curriculum, programmes of cultural ‘democratization’ and ‘democracy’, and public television programming. It explores the policy engagement of intellectuals such as Pierre Bourdieu, Michel de Certeau, André Malraux, Cathérine Clément, Régis Debray, Francis Jeanson, Henri Wallon, Blandine Kriegel, and Edgar Morin. ‘An interesting and stimulating read … I shall be recommending elements of this book as higher-level reading for students taking undergraduate modules on 'Republican values' and the French education system and 'French Popular culture'. I am sure that many other colleagues elsewhere in British and US universities will want to do likewise.’ Hugh Dauncey, Newcastle University.

Jeremy Ahearne is Professor of French Studies at the University of Warwick and author of Michel de Certeau: Interpretation and its Other (Polity Press, 1995) and French Cultural Policy Debates: A Reader (Routledge, 2002).

Acknowledgements Introduction: Focus and Limits Part One: Frameworks 1 Intellectuals and public policy in France: an Overview 2 Intellectuals within policy processes: Conceptual approaches Part Two: Probes 3 Laicity: architects and Interpreters Prophets and Architects: Condorcet, Quinet, Buisson Interpreting Laicity: The Debray and Stasi Reports (2002, 2003) 4 The expression and critique of Cultural policy: André Malraux and Pierre Bourdieu André Malraux Pierre Bourdieu 5 Curriculum reform and Intellectuals: the Common and the General Equality and the Idea of a Common Culture The Langevin-Wallon Report (1944–1947) Pierre Bourdieu: The Collège de France and the Bourdieu-Gros Reports (1985 and 1989) Edgar Morin: ‘Quels savoirs enseigner dans les lycées?’ (1998) 6. Cultural Democracy: representation, institutions and experimentation Francis Jeanson Michel de Certeau 7 Television: anxiety and care The Kriegel Report (2002) The Clément Report (2002) Conclusion Bibliography Index

This very valuable study adapts the critical apparatus of what can often appear to be the model driven preoccupations of social policy studies and uses it successfully to illuminate the role of the intellectual engaging with the public policy sphere. In so doing the book elucidates some of the most important cultural and social issues that are the focus of debate in contemporary France.
Gino Raymond   French Studies, vol 68, no 1

Ahearne’s study is to be welcomed for the contributions it makes to our understanding of both French policy-making and of French intellectual history. In the domain of policy-making, Ahearne offers new insights into the frequent use made by successive French governments of public intellectuals to legitimise their actions. As regards intellectual history, he usefully illuminates some of the ways in which French intellectuals have sought to find practical applications for their theoretical ideas.
Jeremy F. Lane   Modern and Contemporary France

... a timely and instructive text …, an excellent intervention into the ongoing development of cultural policy studies itself.
Dave O'Brien   Cultural Trends

Ahearne's book fills an important gap in recent studies of the always fascinating interface between the cultural and the political in modern France.
Keith Reader   Journal of Contemporary European Studies

Ahearne’s contribution to scholarship on this fascinating subject is a model of cross-disciplinary research […].The book is a learned and highly successful enterprise, and one that adds substantially to our understanding of the crucial but ambivalent role of intellectuals in the formation of French cultural policy, and sheds genuine light on the broader question of the meaning of the ‘public sphere’ in a largely privatised age.
Stephen Hopkins   Perspectives on European Politics and Society

The subtlety of this book lies in its perceptive analyses of those situations in which the intellectuals studied combine expertise and critical attention (…). The author maps out the basis for a renewed reflection on the place of the intellectual in contemporary societies which, more than ever, need public debates and figures who can animate them in a responsible (expert) and vivacious (critical) manner. Through this way of interrogating the past to respond to the challenges of the present, the author breathes refreshing new life into the history of intellectuals.
François Chaubet   Vingtième Siècle, Issue 110

An interesting and stimulating read … I shall be recommending elements of this book as higher-level reading for students taking undergraduate modules on ‘Republican values’ and the French education system, and on French popular culture. I am sure that many other colleagues elsewhere in British and US universities will want to do likewise.
Hugh Dauncey  
Newcastle University

Format: Hardback

Size: 239 x 163 mm

244 Pages

ISBN: 9781846312458

Publication: June 11, 2010

Series: Studies in Social and Political Thought 19

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