Language, cultural policy and national identity in France, 1989-97
thesisposted on 16.11.2010, 16:19 by Louise Strode
The French State, and political elites operating within it, have a long tradition of involvement in the production, management and even the control of language and culture. This has been - and remains - important in terms of the construction and definition of a State-led model of French identity. Against this background, the present thesis examines conceptions of French identity held by political elites, the agents of the State, in relation to language and cultural issues prominent on the policy-making agenda in the 1990s. The thesis specifically considers the possibility that elite visions of identity may be changing under the influence both of new approaches to French cultural policy-making introduced from the 1980s by the Socialists, and specifically the Ministry of Culture led by Jack Lang, and of a series of potentially destabilising challenges to French models of cultural policy and identity which have been debated in the 1990s. In order to examine these issues, the thesis takes three case studies, focusing on political debates in the public arena surrounding a number of language and cultural policy issues which have been perceived as symbols of French identity. The regulation and promotion of the French language, audiovisual broadcasting policy and the Internet are selected as case study areas, which reveal these perceptions, and point to anxieties about identity in the debates which surround them. Thus these debates are used as a means of reexamining contemporary elite perceptions of French identity. This examination is carried out through the close reading of contributions to the debates, made by political figures of significance in each case study area. The term 'political elites' is used in the sense of Pareto's definition (1935, in Parry, 1969, pp. 34,46) of the elite as a 'governing elite', composed of all political 'influentials', whether or not they act for the State, as part of a government, or indirectly as part of the wider polity, in opposition. The cases tudiesd emonstrateth at elite conceptions of identity in France of the 1990s, whilst disturbed by contemporary challenges to French cultural policy-making, did not change in any fundamental way. Instead, they illustrated a reversion to traditional, rigid conceptions of identity, rather than the welcoming of more dynamic and hybrid ones.
- Social Sciences
- Politics and International Studies