EU ministers' conclusions correctly reflect the role of civil society in international cultural relations, as the EESC underlined in its Opinion on the Joint Communication 'Towards an EU Strategy for international cultural relations' , for which I was the rapporteur. Culture cannot be imposed 'top-down' - and its strength results from its nature as part of the fabric of communities and their citizens. I also welcome the explicit mention of culture as a 'horizontal enabler for sustainable development', a link which, due to its pertinence and also reflected in the EESC Opinion , had promoted my decision to select "Culture", "Sustainable development" and "Peace" as key priorities of my Presidency.
Beyond the capacity to drive trust, mutual understanding, democracy, peacebuilding and reconciliation as well as sustainable development, culture is a powerful engine for economic and social development in and outside the EU. Skip to main content. This page is also available in en. France's empire meanwhile had become a strong cultural presence during the s and s, with the Paris Colonial Exhibition of marking a high point of its visibility in France. The French army sent soldiers to Indochina and maintained bases all over North Africa, a presence romanticized in popular films of the s.
Schoolchildren learnt which countries of the globe were marked by the French 'civilizing mission'. But although the colonies were crucial to both Vichy and the Free French during World War II, and although France emerged from that war with the colonial empire broadly intact, the latter did not long survive the world-wide movement of decolonization in the s and s. With hindsight, early twentieth-century France could be seen as seeking a global identity to compensate for the shadows over Europe, whereas after it would more firmly embrace a European identity - while facing some of the consequences of the colonial era.
How the French present is shaped by the past 27 Church and state The second critical area connected with the Dreyfus Affair was the relationship between the Catholic Church and the republican state. The Third Republic was established rather precariously in the s. The restoration of a monarchy, a Bonapartist Empire or even a military dictatorship seemed by no means impossible in the early days. In the past, the Church had sided with monarchy or Empire, so it was viewed by republicans as politically and socially conservative.
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Its schools were identified as enemies of the independent and scientific thought inherited from the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. The Prussian victory of was regarded as the result of superior education and technology, so the new French Republic made education a cornerstone of its policies - aiming to create a modern and literate nation and to reduce the power of the Church.
The education laws of the s, under the reformer Jules Ferry, gave every town and village in France a state primary school for boys and girls. Schooling was free, compulsory and nonreligious between the ages of 6 and Previously many country children and most girls had been taught in Church schools. By contrast, newly trained state teachers saw it as their mission to provide a 'non-superstitious' education. For a vivid picture of one such instituteur, see Marcel Pagnol's La Glaire de man pere. Private schools, mostly Catholic, became the minority, with pupils choosing them mainly on religious grounds they are still part-underwritten by the state so the fees are low.
This helps explains why, on the whole, the road to a good education in France still today runs through the public sector, rather than via exclusive private schools as in some countries d. In this context the Church found itself on the 'wrong' side in the Dreyfus Affair. Republican values, such as the right of the individual to a fair trial, freedom of speech, belief and the press, were seen by pro-Dreyfusards as the key issue. And while republicans of the s were no revolutionaries, most of them remained fiercely anticlerical. Why was the Church implicated at all?
For one thing, bourgeois families from which army officers were recruited often sent their sons to Jesuit colleges. Second, while it would be quite wrong to see all Catholics as having been anti-Dreyfusards, some outspoken groups within the Church backed the army, often insulting the republic at the same time. Protestants, a small minority in France, mostly took the republican side.
From the high feelings raised by the Affair, pressure built up for the Church to be separated from the state - until then the two had coexisted uneasily, with the state paying the clergy. Republican governments in the s took the final step of formal Separation, completed in with some bitterness the banning of religious orders, the taking of inventories of churches, etc.
The two have remained separate: there is no question of prayers being said in the French National Assembly, as they are at the opening of the British Parliament.
Numéros en texte intégral
Hostility between Church and republic probably remained its fiercest in 28 Contemporary French Cultural Studies the fifty or so years after the Dreyfus Affair. Even in the s, as older people can remember, state and Church school pupils could come to blows in the street. Political life reflected this too. Maurice Larkin has pointed out that when General de Gaulle became head of the provisional government in , he was the first practising Catholic to be head of government for 70 years. And one reason why French politicians resisted women's suffrage during the inter-war years was the fear that women, believed to be more religious than men, would vote for pro-clerical parties.
Some traces of this Church state hostility still remain - as late as when a socialist government tried to modify the status of Church schools, a widespread outcry prevented the changes, so it is not dead. And Catholicism remains a cultural presence in many subtle ways in French literature and the arts.
But looking back from , what seems most obvious is that with the decline of Catholic observance in France, anticlericalism too has waned. On the other hand the question of religious background and schooling has arisen in connection with Islam see chapter 8. Discrimination against the 'other': the problem of antisemitism One of the key features of the Dreyfus Affair was the suggestion that because the army had identified a Jewish officer as a possible suspect, it decided to look no further. In other words, it was guilty of antisemitism. This term, meaning hostility to or discrimination against Jewish people, first became current at this time all over Europe.
It is ironic that it should have become entangled with French history, since after the Revolution discrimination was uniquely banned in France, where Jews could be citizensso Dreyfus was able to pursue a career in the higher ranks of the army. But when in the late nineteenth century Jews fleeing persecution in Eastern Europe began to arrive in France, stirrings of antisemitism appeared there too. Edouard Drumont, editor of the antisemitic newspaper La Libre Parole, played an energetic role in the Affair. Anti-Dreyfusards like him claimed that there was a Jewish 'syndicate' protecting Dreyfus: antisemitic invective reached levels that would appal people today.
Such propaganda was temporarily silenced after the Affair, and as Pierre Birnbaum has argued cf. Caron , , French Jews became strongly republican, rightly seeing the republic as defender of their rights. Under the pressure of Nazism during the s, however, antisemitism revived, coinciding once more with a wave of refugees, and the growth of a home-grown version of fascism in France. Once more, newspaper articles which would be banned today for racism became fairly commonplace. Shortly before becoming prime minister, the Jewish leader of the socialist party Leon Blum was set upon in the street.
France was certainly not alone in this: How the French present is shaped by the past 29 antisemitism was also quite openly voiced by people in Britain at the time. But in France, the tragic circumstances of the German invasion of turned antisemitism into an affair of state. After the fall of France, the Vichy authorities introduced discriminatory measures against Jews, and cooperated when ordered by the Nazis to assist in deporting thousands of Jews, of both French and foreign origin, to concentration camps.
This aspect of Vichy policy has been revealed progressively since the war and is now fully recognized by French historians and politicians. In the s, both Presidents Mitterrand and Chirac called for remembrance of the suffering of Jews in wartime France. But without underestimating the role this reappraisal has played in the psychic history of France since , it seems true to say that the traumas of the war have effectively put an end to the kind of antisemitism seen in earlier days, except for its residual form in the right-wing party, the Front National. The rise of the intellectuals The fourth area of 'ferment' emerging from the Dreyfus Affair is the rise of the intellectuals - the very word first came into use around , and has always been associated with France see chapter It may seem odd to connect it with ferment.
But from the start, the term 'intellectuals' was explicitly linked to combat. When Zola wrote ']'accuse' in January , accusing the French army of a cover-up, scientists, academics and literary figures signed petitions on both sides of the debate, lending their names and reputations to a political cause - as many still do in France today. Julien Benda later called this 'La trahison des clercs', complaining that the educated were betraying their calling by descending into the political arena.
During the , intellectuals were once more prominent, many joining anti-fascist groups, some supporting the fascist cause in their writings. If the right-wing journalist and polemicist Robert Brasillach was executed at the liberation, it was for what he had written, not for any military action. Looking back from beyond , 'French intellectuals' in this political sense might be viewed as having arisen from a particular historical context, between the Dreyfus Affair and the Algerian War.
The concept arises out of the existence of a highly educated elite, before educational reforms had spread to the entire population. Meritocratic access to higher education was in theory open to all, but in practice before about it favoured boys and a few girls from well-off families. It produced several remarkable generations of gifted, well-trained and often world-famous philosophers, scientists and thinkers, whose exposure to the tormented politics of the century's first fifty or so years explained their engagement or 'commitment'.
Many of them took up some kind of position favourable, hostile or ambiguous in relation to the French Communist 30 Contemporary French Cultural Studies Party, which was at its most influential in the years from to the mid s - as described in Beauvoir's novel Les Mandarins - while Marxism more generally appealed to many intellectuals unlike in Britain until the last quarter of the twentieth century.
From this brief overview, we might suggest first that from about to about and perhaps beyond, these four features could be seen as specific forces in French history. It is true that some of them might be found in other European countries - but not in quite the same form. Second, after World War II, all of these factors either became less important or were modified, as France underwent far-reaching change, making it more like the country we recognize today.
France's second twentieth century No doubt the seeds of change were already there by But the remarkable pace at which France was transformed from a country largely identified with farmers and small businesses to an advanced urban and technological nation, in the latter half of the twentieth century, makes the last fifty years a time of exceptional cultural change. To simplify a complex picture, let us concentrate on five major features. Economic and demographic change, and the role of the state After , the French economy experienced the 'trente glorieuses', the 'thirty miracle years' which saw a population explosion, the dramatic 'rural exodus', and the expansion of industry.
The single most important change after was not immediate, and came as a surprise to contemporaries: population revival. Between the wars France had had a strikingly low birth rate, the despair of governments who feared military defeat if too few children were born to replace the losses of After , there was a predictable baby boom: what was not so predictable was that it lasted until the s, bringing all the benefits and some of the problems of a young nation.
In Dreyfus's time the French population had been about 40 million and it was still at this level in Now the figure is nearer 60 million. The birth rate slowed from the s however and is now once more low, hence the incentives in the French social security system for larger families. In the latter half of the twentieth century, these changes were mostly beneficial and seen as marking a new confidence: in the twenty-first century however, the baby boom generation may pose more of a problem as it reaches retirement see chapter 6.
The population also changed its patterns of residence. At the time of the How the French present is shaped by the past 31 Dreyfus Affair, about half the French population 18 out of about 40 million depended on the land for a living. Not until did the 'urban' population people living in communes of over people overtake the rural population. The s depression and the Occupation of , when it was an advantage to live in the countryside, slowed down the move to the towns, but it took off dramatically after , as peasant-farmers and their relations left the land.
Today, although French farmers are still a noticeably vociferous pressure group, less than 6 or 7 per cent of the population depend on farming for a living. Agriculture is no longer the self-sufficient way of life it remained as recently as the s, but is now an important and subsidized export sector of the French economy, linked to intensive food manufacture. Patterns of domestic consumption have changed too.
Histoire de l'immigration : Groupes ethno-culturels
France is still a country where good food matters, but French people now shop in supermarkets and buy laboursaving food - less than Americans or the British, but far more than previous generations. From the s, French households acquired cars, TV sets, and other goods, developing living patterns quite different from those of their predecessors. Last, France has also undergone a technological revolution, symbolized for many by the high-speed trains the TGVs, trains agrande vitesse. The post-war modernization of the economy was achieved partly with the help of another feature particular to France, and one less obviously to the fore in the early twentieth century: the role of the centralized state in directing the economy and administration.
After World War II, the state nationalized several key sectors of heavy industry, and introduced a form of indicative planning which was much admired elsewhere. The French etatiste or 'statist' tradition goes back at least to Napoleonic times, if not to Colbert and the seventeenth century. It certainly played a part in the 'trente glorieuses', and post-war recovery. In the twentieth century, the modern heyday of etatisme was perhaps from to the early s when the socialist government under President Mitterrand further expanded the state sector. Since then, there has been something of a retreat from state ownership and planning.
The TGV may come to seem the last grand state enterprise, a prestigious success achieved by means of large-scale public investment. Today, politicians of both right and left have accepted modification of the state tradition, including privatizations and some decentralization of political power, not to mention the impact of Europe.
But France still has a large public sector compared to its neighbours, and the state tradition is more ingrained into French everyday life than it may be in the reader's home country. French public employees for example have a particular conception of their service which carries certain rights and privileges. And in the realm of culture and language, the state plays a quite special role in France see chapters 4, 5,10 and For example, in prewar times, the s depression hit France less immediately and less sharply than its more industrialized neighbours, Germany and Britain, because France was less connected to the European and American economies.
Then too, it still had a colonial empire. Today's French economy - more outwardlooking and export-led - is also more vulnerable to world competition. Unemployment is often the price that is paid for openness to the outside world and the thirty 'glorious years' were followed by another twenty or more ss when France suffered high levels of unemployment.
One important kind of openness to the outside world came in both symbolic and material form with the creation of the European Community. It would have been hard to predict in how closely France and Germany would be cooperating, as first the Coal and Steel Community and then the Common Market were set up.
The Community was devised by Jean Monnet and others precisely to reconcile these two continental nations. Even today differences of interest can arise. But whatever the issue, Germany is for France the key partner and interlocutor in the European context - much more so than Britain. Whereas in the first part of the century, France was a rather uneasy ally of Britain, and feared Germany, now it respects Germany and is in some ways fairly indifferent to Britain, a country which has been ambivalent about Europe.
As the newspaper Le Monde put it in , 'nothing could be further apart than the British Eurosceptics who openly ask whether their country ought to get out of a Europe they think of as "foreign", and the Eurosceptics on the continent who criticize the abuses of Brussels in order to promote a firmer union'.
Now Strasbourg houses the European Parliament. With the creation of the Euro on 1 January , France and Germany both joined something described in English as 'Euroland'. The new common currency joined world finance markets as an alternative to the US dollar. The cultural implications of this change, which will mean the disappearance of the franc, have yet to become clear, hut it is the culmination of a very different trajectory for France from the history of If France has increasingly come to be identified as a European nation, that is in part because of the loss of empire.
Many of France's colonies achieved independence in the early s by agreement, but in the major cases of Indochina and Algeria, independence came after long and bitter struggles and The Indochina war was in part linked togeopolitics and great power struggles: France was replaced by the US after , and after further conflict, the Vietnam war came to an end only in the s. In the case of Algeria, administratively regarded as part of France, the effects of the war were more hard-felt in France itself.
It was the cause of the fall of How the French present is shaped by the past 33 the Fourth Republic and the return to power of General de Gaulle in Four years later, his government concluded a peace treaty leading to Algerian independence, but not without some bitter legacies, at least in the short term. Last, France's place in the world has also been affected by the collapse of communism both inside and outside France especially since Under de Gaulle and to a lesser extent under his successors, France operated a fairly independent foreign policy within the western alliance, having unilateral relations with some communist countries, notably the former USSR.
Political change France's trajectory has been a different one politically as well as economically. France is still a republic, and republican sentiments run deep in a number of its cultural institutions cf. But it is no longer the same republic. For one thing - and this is a pointer to a major cultural change - it now has a political system encompassing both sexes. When women voted for the first time in , the event was noted, yet many did not sense it as the sign of major change.
It has indeed taken a long time for women to be admitted to the centres of political power through election to councils and parliament. But in retrospect, the change points to a very striking difference from pre-war France.
Tout Kupka au Grand Palais : un artiste et une rétrospective rares
The republic is now truly based on universal suffrage and despite the persistence of a distinctive Gallic 'vive la difference' culture that Anglo-Americans sometimes find hard to take women playa very significant role in French society. The historian Rene Remond, in conclusion to his history of twentieth-century France , singled out the status of women as the greatest change in his lifetime.
In the s, 'parity of representation' for men and women in the Assembly became an issue cf. In , fears forthe republic's existence almost seemed justified, as the Fourth Republic collapsed in division over the traumatic Algerian War. The Fifth Republic, distinguished from its predecessors by the key role of the president and of presidential elections, was largely the creation of General de Gaulle. Born in , he was exactly the same age as Dreyfus's young son during the Affair, but his impact on France was felt most in the later part of the twentieth century.
In , defying his superior officers, he launched the Free French, and became a national hero at the Liberation. In , he was recalled to power by the army, 'to restore order' - ironically, precisely the kind of scenario republicans had feared during the Dreyfus Affair - as well as to hold on to Algeria. But the clock was not turned back. De Gaulle was no dictator and proceeded to 34 Contemporary French Cultural Studies decolonize France's overseas possessions, including Algeria, and to institute the Fifth Republic which, although not undisputed, is now compared favourably with its less stable predecessors.
The socialist Fran Fewer intellectuals, more culture-shocks If May did not in the short term cause a crise de regime - June elections restored de Gaulle's government to power, although he himself soon retired - it was certainly a profound cultural crisis, the coming of age of the post-war generation. The pre-war intellectuals mentioned earlier, a 'generation of intellectual turbo-compressors Jean-Paul Sartre was enthusiastically on the side of the student revolution, but he found an unaccustomed note on the lectern when he went to speak at the Mutualite: 'Sartre, be brief and to the point'.
Several changes combined to reduce - though not to abolish - both the commitment of intellectuals and the respect which they had once been accorded. One was the decline - though not quite disappearance - of the French Communist Party, with which so many post-war intellectuals sympathized. The world decline of communism was not as predictable in , despite the 'Prague Spring', as it seems now from the other side of , but the dwindling of the Communist Party in France during the s and 80s reduced the size of an important subculture.
In retrospect it is possible to see that this partly explains the so-called silence of the intellectuals remarked on during those decades, before a certain revival in very recent years. Another factor was the expansion of higher education, a root cause of the How the French present is shaped by the past 35 unrest of In and even in the s, only a tiny minority of French school pupils thought in terms of a university education. It has now become the ambition of most people that their children have some form of higher education.
There are still educationally privileged elites - in France's unique system of grandes ecoles - but the ambitions of their graduates are often administrative or commercial rather than intellectual-political. Today there are large numbers of well-educated adults, and plenty of academics, scientists and teachers, not to mention students, all ready to contest received opinion, so the rarity value of the intellectuals has been diluted.
With these changes it might be argued, the place of the intellectual in the post-Sartrean years was for a while vacant and became divided among various categories who did not quite fit the 'freelance-philosopher' model. Professional academics for example - historians of the Annales School like Fernand Braudel and Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, or scientists like Laurent Schwarz - became celebrated figures without being firmly identified with political stances. Some became maitres a penser or gurus - often accorded particular fame outside France: Jacques Derrida, Julia Kristeva and Roland Barthes are examples.
The trajectory of Pierre Bourdieu, the academic sociologist who has developed a high profile as a committed intellectual, is doubly significant in this respect. Another challenge to the pre-eminence of the intellectual has been the expansion of the media, which has created a number of well-known and street-credible personalities. France was naturally affected by the arrival of radio and television: it had an early version of the home computer in the Minitel, and has now after a few wobbles, d. The advertising image, the soap opera, the computer screen, the sound-bite and the mobile phone compete for the attention a previous generation would have given to reading books and newspapers.
The cultural change symbolized by was in part a generational change. Youth culture, centred in part around music, in part around sport, in part around fashions of all kinds, has become pretty much world wide d. Future role models will not necessarily be 'intellectuals' at all.
A different 'otherness' The fifth great change to be mentioned here is not peculiar to France, but it could be argued that it has a particular resonance in France. In Dreyfus's day, Jews from Eastern Europe were among immigrants seeking asylum in France, traditionally a country of refuge. The twentieth century was to see much immigration into France, especially when adult male labour was 36 Contemporary French Cultural Studies needed. Young men from Poland, Belgium and Italy were drawn to France after World War I, while after World War II, with the massive expansion of the French economy, workers came from further afield, especially from France's colony Algeria, the protectorates of Tunisia and Morocco, and later from a wide range of Third World countries.
Immigration always causes stress for both sides, but in prosperous times these are less obvious. After the oil crises of the s, the French economy began to move into recession; unemployment and racial tension grew, and economic immigration virtually stopped.
But many immigrant workers had settled in France with their families and became a new feature in French society. Incomers of European origin, such as the many Portuguese who came to France in the s, had a comparatively short cultural distance to travel. But North African Muslims formed a large percentage of incomers. Their cultural difference was greater and was exaggerated by effective, if unintentional segregation, families often being lodged in new housing schemes outside cities, les banlieues.
School-leavers from these families were not well placed as high youth unemployment hit France in the s and s. Racial tensions were magnified by the rise of the Front National. In response, movements such as SOS Racisme were launched to combat discrimination. As noted by several contributors, multiculturalism - allowing various cultural groups to maintain their identities in all circumstances - is regarded with suspicion by some people in France, as likely to create a society of ghettos.
Others suggest that it is possible to combine a distinctive cultural identity with conformity to the legal limits of the state in which one lives, and that to suppress people's cultural identity is to practise intolerance. Similar questions have arisen in other European countries with large minorities of foreign residents of fairly recent arrival, but the French debate has taken on a particular form. Taking the long view, it is arguable that younger generations may be able to handle these issues with fewer preconceptions than their parents cf.
This chapter has set out not to give a history of twentieth-century France, but to isolate - a little artificially, and with the aim of provoking questions - certain issues relating to the historical specificity of France, providing a context for what follows. France is a rewarding country to study and compare with other traditions.
If one were to hazard a generalization to summarize the foregoing, it might be that in the first half of the century, France was mainly concerned to protect its territorial existence, and to export French culture, in particular to its empire, while in the second half, it has secured its existence firmly within the new Europe, but has become more concerned to defend French culture against competition from elsewhere, whether the United States or Islam. The reader may not necessarily agree with this or any other propositions suggested here; but enough has been said, I hope, to suggest that an ancient and complex culture such as France cannot be reduced to a single or stereotypical identity.
London: Arnold. Oxford: OUI'. Paris: Fayard. Basingstoke: Macmillan. All these books have very full bibliographies, directing readers to works in French, and Rod Kedward and Charles Sowerwine are both completing new histories of France in the twentieth century. A special mention should be made of a work which combines history and culture, Pierre Nora's monumental seven-volume collection Les Lieux de memoire which contains chapters on dozens of cultural topics.
Bordeaux Municipal Library
This was republished in paperback in three volumes by Gallimard in ; a selection in English has been translated by Arthur Goldhammer as Realms of memory: the construction of the French past New York: Columbia University Press, For a thematic guide to this collection, see Appendix below, pp.
Since the rest of this book will be introducing the reader to some varied aspects of French culture today, the purpose of this chapter is to look at the national context in which all these cultures and subcultures function. This means that we need to examine the role of the state in the French sense of the word, ['Etat , since in France it is essentially the state that has set up the formal context within which most forms of cultural expression have been either encouraged or repressed.
By contrast with Britain and America, there is something very distinctive about the close relationship between French culture and political power. In France today, the state, represented mainly by the Ministry of Culture, plays a more influential and visible role than any other actor. It does this, not simply by funding the arts on the British model, 'at arm's length', but centrally, by developing and applying a highly interventionist cultural policy designed to reflect national objectives.
Outside observers will find it impossible to understand French culture without having some idea of the political importance and impact of state-driven cultural policy. So this chapter will first give a brief but essential historical account of how and why current attitudes to cultural affairs have developed as they have, before going on to examine the cultural role of the state in France today.
It will discuss its economic impact, and the extent to which cultural policy-making is still influenced by tradition. Culture and the state: the historical tradition It is true that in France, we have a special shared idea of what culture is. This does not just date from M.
Mitterrand's presidency, nor even from the days of Malraux or Pompidou, but goes back centuries. Despite our troubled history, the idea of culture has always been a French cultural policy: the special role of the state 39 constant: we know it to be an irreplaceable component of our national identity and of our country's vocation to radiate rayonner beyond its borders, and we know that it implies a degree of responsibility on the part of the state.
In this respect, for us in France 'cultural exceptionalism' [ Rigaud , 17 This quotation from Jacques Rigaud a top civil servant and specialist on cultural policy is a good example of how French policy-makers consider the roots of the distinctive French approach to culture to be deeply embedded in historical tradition, and part of their national identity. The kings of France set an early precedent for state intervention in cultural affairs in several ways: chiefly, by introducing the practice of state commissions to create art works and monuments intended to reflect and enhance the prestige or grandeur of the French monarchy.
This practice, known as Ie mecenat d'Etat, is usually seen as the precursor of public funding for the arts as we know it today. All the best artists were working for the greater glory of the state, by channelling their creativity towards such things as ceremonial odes, statues of the king to decorate palace courtyards or symbolic public spaces, or portraits of monarchs in glorious circumstances. By affording the monarchy a controlling influence over cultural production, Ie mecenat went hand in hand with royal censorship, established by setting up a series of artistic academies endowed with authority over every aspect of cultural life: music, dance, architecture, painting and sculpture.
In this way, writers, les hommes de lettres, were to be encouraged to celebrate royal grandeur. It has been pointed out by Roger Chartier that the Academy introduced into the French cultural system 'the very forceful and enduring idea that all aesthetic production must be judged on its degree of conformity to the rules set out by the legitimising institution' Chartier , This was the foundation for what is referred to as academisme: a tendency to observe a set of rules laid down by the ruling elites, often linked to artistic conservatism. It is a feature which has constituted one of the most entrenched dimensions of French cultural life.
The academies still exist today - though considerably modified and with less influence - under the auspices of the famous Institut de France opposite the Louvre. So it is 40 Contemporary French Cultural Studies not hard to see why the link is made so freely between the monarchy's intervention in cultural life, and the role played by today's cultural establishment, since members of the Institut are also chosen by representatives of the state. This royal legacy, perhaps surprisingly, was not repudiated under later republican regimes in France after Initial impulses to destroy the symbols of autocratic power soon gave way to a realization that it was in the state's interests to preserve and build on the cultural heritage of the newly emerging French nation.
Within France, the patrimoine culturel was used as a vehicle for the construction of a national 'shared' memory of, and pride in, French history, designed to have a unifying influence on the population. Abroad, the monarchical preoccupation with grandeur was superseded by the republic's universalist claims to a 'civilizing mission', providing ideological justification for the plundering of so-called 'uncivilized' territories whose cultural artefacts could be brought back to the cradle of liberty.
The symbol of the First Republic's 'nationalization' of culture was the conversion of the Louvre palace the traditional home of the French monarchy until Versailles was built into a national museum, opened to the public in it still contains many 'plundered' exhibits, such as Egyptian antiquities brought back by Napoleon's armies. The fact that Mitterrand made the reorganization of the Louvre a key feature of his architectural projects can be seen as a highly significant gesture towards renewing the link with this revolutionary cultural tradition.
Later regimes of both right and left - empire, monarchy and republic - all harnessed the use of culture for political purposes. There has been a surprising degree of elite consensus given the troubled nature of French political history more generally over the importance of culture in national political life, and especially over making the 'perennite de l'ceuvre national', the lasting values of national achievements, the basis of French national culture.
This was particularly true under the Third Republic , whose leaders were concerned to strengthen the republican system of government and its universalist values introduced by the Revolution, through a range of nation-building measures applied through the education system. Schools had the task of transmitting a universalist culture generale as the necessary grounding for all future citizens d.
Using stateimposed textbooks, it involved the digestion of a considerable volume of knowledge about French history, art and literature, plus a large measure of classical philosophy - all of course taught through the medium of the French language, not in any of the many regional dialects and languages in common usage at the time. This general culture was in reality not so much 'universal' as distinctively French, and was taught to all children throughout the French empire, regardless of their ethnic origins; nor was there any attempt to include any element of their own cultures, since these were not considered part of the 'national' heritage.
The overwhelming impact of this policy was to generate the perhaps illu- French cultural policy: the special role of the state 41 sory sense of a unified, homogeneous notion of French culture, a central element in the formation of French identity, and still a defining influence today.
The culture genera Ie thus acquired has ever since been used as one of the formal ways of selecting the future civil servants les serviteurs de l'Etat , by means of general cultural test-papers which are an essential ingredient not only in the baccalaureat, but also in the concours competitive exams opening the door to all the grandes ecoles and many public sector jobs or training programmes. The continued importance of this testing process can be seen in the many publications on the shelves of bookshops and hypermarkets, helping students prepare for this sort of exam.
For foreigners too, these can be a good source of information about French culture. The emphasis is on breadth of knowledge, but the Franco-centric focus of the questions in fact defines the kind of knowledge about their national cultural heritage that educated cultive French people are expected to have absorbed. This is one of the less visible ways in which the state, through its highly centralized education system, has traditionally shaped French people's ideas about their own culture.
The fact that the state historically took such a leading role in deciding what French culture should be meant that it was inclined to be highbrow museums, great writers, world-famous artists , with little input from popular forms of culture, and hardly any influence from non-metropolitan France or French regional cultures. It was really accessible only to middleand upper-class people in large cities, especially in Paris. Consequently, towards the end of the Third Republic, the left-wing government of the Popular Front, concerned by the exclusion from this culture of the working classes, was the first to try to popularize culture and broaden it to include 'mass culture' such as cinema, and popular festivals.
But the brevity of the Popular Front experience, lack of funds, and the coming of the war limited the number of changes introduced. The 'invention' of cultural policy After World War II, pressure from renewed 'popular culture' movements led to the inclusion of Ie droit ala culture, both in the new French Constitution and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights , but it was not until the creation of the Fifth Republic that the French state really tackled what had become a major problem: how to democratize culture. This was the main task allocated to the well-known writer and Resistance figure, Andre Malraux, chosen by de Gaulle to be France's first Minister of Cultural Affairs in , the date that technically marks the beginning of French cultural policy as we understand it today Urfalino Malraux saw his main objectives as being 'to make the great works of art of humanity, and in particular of France, accessible to as many French people as possible; to ensure as much access as possible to the French cultural heritage 42 Contemporary French Cultural Studies and to encourage artistic creativity'.
He thus maintained the traditional insistence on the idea that only 'high culture' was worthy of public subsidy, yet he also broke with the 'academisme' of the cultural establishment by openly embracing the avant-garde and by encouraging wider access to 'great art'. He had intended to set up a Maison de la culture in at least twenty departements. These centres, with exhibition and performance spaces, were often described as 'cultural cathedrals' because of Malraux's aim to turn them into beacons of cultural excellence, though less than a dozen were built in the end. This was partly because Malraux's ministry never had a budget large enough to underpin his ambitions, but also perhaps because he misjudged the ability and inclination of the wider population to respond positively to a package of culture defined in a rather classic way.
Only the educated middle classes really benefited.
The other main objective of the ministry was to contribute to the glory and grandeur of the French state - de Gaulle's own overriding ambition. The renewal of a close relationship between political power and culture became a distinctive feature of the Fifth Republic. By showcasing the cultural role of the state, emphasizing the national character of French culture, encouraging the 'rayonnement culture I de la France' abroad, and using the apparent consensus to build a new sense of national identity, Malraux played a full part in the Gaullist political agenda.
It was in fact this overt political association that brought an end to the Malraux ministry, when de Gaulle resigned in But the events of May also represented a much broader questioning of the definition and power of culture and its role in society, as a result of many new ideas that had informed intellectual debate in the s and s: in particular, the increasing influence of the relatively new and intellectually fashionable discipline of ethnology anthropology , which saw culture not simply as Malraux's culture noble, but as a much broader concept, including the whole range of everyday activities that ordinary people engaged in, referred to as Ie quotidien Lefebvre Other intellectuals such as Michel de Certeau spoke up for forms of popular culture that had either been repressed or simply not recognized by the state popular music for instance.
The unified national culture traditionally encouraged and imposed by the state was giving some ground to cultural pluralism de Certeau May had revealed the fissures in what the Fifth Republic had described as the national heritage, and the ministry was forced to reconsider its position. However, in the absence of a personality like Malraux to lead the way, the entre-deux-mai Ory proved to be a period of hesitations for the ministry. Since 'the Lang years' have had such a massive impact on cultural life in France in the s and s, it is worth looking briefly at what people mean by this expression.
French cultural policy: the special role of the state 43 The Lang years Jack Lang, a flamboyant and iconoclastic politician, was Minister for Culture under President Mitterrand from to , and then again from to , holding this post long enough to leave a very distinctive mark on French cultural policy. His greatest contribution was undoubtedly the striking way in which he brought cultural policy to the very forefront of the political agenda. Several reasons, not all of them disinterested, explain this politicization of cultural policy: first, the importance attached to culture by the Parti Socialiste in opposition in the s Urfalino , , Looseley , ; second, Lang's use of his position for electoral manoeuvring Urfalino , ; Rigaud , ; and third, the level of support given to Lang by the President, who wanted to leave a cultural stamp on his political legacy.
As a result of the Lang-Mitterrand era, cultural policy has remained a high priority for all later governments, making this a field of politics where consensus has replaced conflict. As soon as he was appointed minister, and in accordance with Mitterrand's expressed wish that 'partout en France, les talents s'eveillent' author's interview with Lang, , Lang began to put in place the elements of what was intended as 'une sorte de revolution culturelle'.
The most significant change was the immediate government decision to double the budget of the Ministry of Culture, with the aim of raising it to the symbolic level of 1 per cent of the national budget. The second major innovation was to broaden the scope of the Ministry's intervention and subsidy to include a whole range of much more popular cultural practices previously not recognized, referred to as 'les arts mineurs': jazz, rock, rap, tag i. An effort was also made to increase access to cultural activity for disabled people, those in prison and hospital, and other disadvantaged or minority groups Colin This aspect of Lang's policy was a departure from the Socialist Party's traditional stress on the working class as the chief excluded group.
It indicated a controversial new acceptance by at least one arm of the state of Ie droit a la difference as the basis for the multicultural society that France had in reality become. To embrace cultural diversity as a matter of policy was to go some way towards the position of the 'pluralists' instead of insisting on one universal cultural diet. The much repeated formula used at the time was 'Ie tout culturel'. The third innovation of Lang's policy was the spectacular way in which it was communicated to the public; Lang's colourful personality, and his skilful use of the media, made for a potent combination that kept the ministry and his controversial policies in the public eye.
Lang's use of la fete, a word which has the connotations both of festival and of partying, borrowed from intellectual debate in the and s Lefebvre ; de Certeau , was another strategy to harness both media attention and public enthusiasm. For example, la Fete de la Musique started in as an attempt to create a spontaneous and public celebration 44 Contemporary French Cultural Studies of musical talent at all levels by encouraging musicians literally to go out into the streets and play. It was followed by festivals focusing on books, the cinema, theatre, cartoon strips etc. The minister's fourth major innovation was the least expected: a totally new approach to the relationship between culture and the economy, summed up in Lang's phrase: 'Economie et culture, meme combat'.
These two domains had traditionally been considered as belonging to quite separate logics. Now cultural creativity was seen as an important factor encouraging economic development: cultural industries such as the cinema, book publishing, video, multimedia etc. The cultural state was thus to develop a new type of relationship with the open market, which needs some explanation. Basically, the gradual worsening of the economic situation in the s meant that to justify his plea for more public funding, Lang had to compromise by making cultural activities more financially viable.
But it is also true that Lang's vision included the idea that cultural activity could be positively linked to the wider economy via private enterprise, not just state finance. Lang's legacy as Minister of Culture has been highly original, even if in some respects he preserved continuity. But another important dimension of the Lang-Mitterrand legacy was the so-called presidentialization of cultural policy.
The agreement by Lang and Mitterrand that an ambitious cultural policy should be driven by a number of major 'gestures' led them to initiate a major programme of architectural projects in Paris and to a lesser extent in the provinces : the grands travaux or grands projets culturels. The thinking behind these projects was that they would bring about a revival of creativity in France; put Paris back on the map as the centre of the cultural world a position partly lost to other capital cities such as New York ; provide better facilities for the culture-loving Parisians while embellishing the capital's reputation as a Mecca for cultural tourism, and finally, act as a motor to encourage similar projects outside Paris.
The President took an active role in the preparations for designing and building these projects, effectively sidelining Lang and his ministry, though most of the finished products are now run under the auspices and the budget of the Ministry of Culture. This aspect of the works was controversial: Mitterrand's critics accused him of entertaining illusions of grandeur reminiscent of Louis XIV, and the grands travaux were seen by many as a revival of the old royal tradition of mecenat under a republican flag Chaslin So the Lang-Mitterrand era offered a curious combination of quite unexpected innovations in which history and modernity expressed themselves in French cultural policy: the special role of the state 45 often paradoxical ways.
Socialist cultural policies generally proved popular with French people. However, a number of intellectuals launched a virulent critique of the way in which the ministry's increasingly tentacular and defining role, expressed in the idea of 'l'Etat culturel' Fumaroli , had led to the alleged dumbing down of 'true culture' in favour of an entertainmentdriven cultural consumerism that no longer justified public subsidy or the existence of a ministry Finkie! The echoes of this debate in the French media and its impact on the general public showed that questions of culture and cultural policy can still provoke passions in contemporary France.
Although observers with no axe to grind also agree that the critics have identified real issues of concern for the future, the attacks on the ministry have not undermined its status or influence, as the following section will show. Cultural policy in contemporary France As we have seen, the idea that the state in France has a cultural mission is wide!
Despite the recent criticisms by intellectuals of 'l'Etat culture! The Minister of Culture until March , Catherine Trautmann, often said that the cost of cultural policy was justified because it could be considered as a public service. The aims of today's ministry in fact remain much the same as when it was created, notably: 'rendre access ibles au plus grand nombre les reuvres capitales de I'humanite, et en premier lieu les reuvres franr;aises; assurer la plus vaste audience a notre patrimoine culture!
There is still an emphasis on admiring great works by French artists and writers, alongside an ongoing concern for 'cultural democratization'. But the latter does seem to have eluded successive ministries. Several surveys carried out by the ministry since the s have shown that the extent to which French people engage in cultural activities is still determined largely by their social class and educational background, with the middle and professional classes still the great beneficiaries. For example, a survey shows that whereas only 4 per cent of cadres superieurs had never visited a museum, the figure was 38 per cent for unskilled workers; similarly, only 13 per cent of cadres superieurs had never been to the theatre, compared to 71 per cent of unskilled workers Donnat Recent policies have attempted to reduce the social inequalities of access to culture in three ways: first, through pricing policies targeting a new public, aimed at reducing la distance economique.
Second, by introducing policies designed to reduce what is called fa distance culturelle by encouraging projects and visits within the education system. The aim here is to introduce children at a young age to habits with which their families may not be familiar, such as visiting exhi- 46 Contemporary French Cultural Studies bitions or theatres - and in this way breaking down some social distinctions.
The Ministry of Education works in partnership with the Ministry of Culture to fund these projects, in and out of school hours, as well as trying to encourage more art and music teaching in French schools - where there has traditionally been little emphasis on creative arts. The third strategic approach aims to tackle the uneven geographical distribution of cultural facilities across the country. Traditionally, Paris has been considered as the showcase for French culture, and Mitterrand's grands travaux aimed explicitly to restore the international cultural status of the capital city, putting Paris and by extension, France at the centre of the 'civilized' world.
But this concentration of resources to the detriment of the rest of the country aroused criticism, so efforts have been made to refocus on cultural decentralization. First, back in the s, the ministry itself established a network of offices called Directions Regionales des Affaires Culturelles the acronym DRAC can mean the institution or its director, directeur in each of the regions of France - a collection of mini-ministries.
Since the law on 'deconcentration', the DRACs have been given more of the ministry'S budget, along with more responsibilities. They basically carry out at regional level policies drawn up by the minister, adapting them to each region and seeking to reduce imbalances. But DRACs also have an advisory role, providing professional knowledge for local authorities and cultural groups www.