A pluralist history of France?

Julian Wright*, H. S. Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


What makes France different? More than two decades have elapsed since François Furet, Jacques Julliard, and Pierre Rosanvallon published a much-debated book which argued that the ‘French exception’ had come to an end. Writing in the wake of President Mitterrand’s re-election, they maintained that the advent of ‘the republic of the centre’, enjoying consensual legitimacy across the political spectrum, marked the end of the political divisions that had afflicted France ever since 1789.1 They predicted that this ‘banalization of French politics’ would also slowly erode the other central characteristics that made France different: the dirigiste centralized state; France’s sense of its universal mission as the depository of the values of enlightenment rationalism; and the republican model of citizenship, which recognizes only individual and not communal identities in the public square. Their book was written with an eye to the imminent celebrations of the bicentenary of the French Revolution, in which Furet, in particular, would play a leading role: indeed, in one sense La République du Centre simply reiterated the key message Furet had propounded in a famous work published a decade before: the Revolution is over.2 But, a generation on, the nature of French exceptionalism continues to be debated by political scientists and commentators on both sides of the Channel and on both sides of the Atlantic, which suggests that Furet and his collaborators were at best premature in their analysis.3.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPluralism and the Idea of the Republic in France
EditorsJulian Wright, H. S. Jones
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781137028310
ISBN (Print)9781349323005, 9780230272095
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes

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