Vision and reality: Joseph Paul-Boncour and Third Republic pluralism

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Abstract

Ideas associated with pluralism were at the front of many intelligent political minds in the Third Republic. Republicans of different stripes kept up a constant reflection on the problems of French political history; when they did so, and regardless of whether they were influenced more by Proudhon or by Taine, politicians of a more philosophical mindset found their thoughts straying more and more towards the problem of the centralized or ‘Jacobin’ State and how it might best be adapted. The question that preoccupied some of these thinkers around 1900 was one of how to unlock the centralized administrative framework inherited from previous regimes, thus reawakening more traditional forces in society such as corporations or provinces (the term ‘region’ was designed for less conservative believers in a provincial renewal for France). For others, the economic demands of modern society, and the grave challenge posed to Republican institutions by the social question, demanded a more rigorous approach, overhauling the economic framework in which the middle-class Republic operated, and giving life to trades unions and workers’ associations as the new building blocks of the social Republic. Both these strands could be seen as advancing a pluralist critique of the existing system; but these strands had a powerful place within mainstream republican debate.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPluralism and the Idea of the Republic
EditorsJulian Wright, H. S. Jones
Place of PublicationBasingstoke
PublisherPalgrave
Pages179-197
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9781137028310
ISBN (Print)9780230272095, 9781349323005
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012

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