International work on political parties and party systems is presented first in this chapter, and then the French scholarship which is largely ignored by international party scholars. The analysis argues the gap between the English-language and French literature is actually widening because of the French penchant for the sociocultural approach. It identifies the need for both French and international communities to better connect in order to avoid isolation and fossilization on both sides. While the micro and qualitative French work challenges some of the tenets of international models, like the catch-all model, and presents important empirical knowledge about French political parties at the local level, French scholars should take a broader perspective on political parties by embracing alternative approaches and examining new objects of study outside the purview of the sociocultural paradigm to address the persistent and widening gap between French and international work on party systems and parties.
Focusing explicitly on the dynamics of electoral representation, this chapter shows that scholarship about representation has been lively despite remaining at the fringe of mainstream international developments. Some precursors, such as Duverger, have failed to shape French debates about the issue even if their international standing has been immense. Instead, attention has been paid to the symbolic and historical dimensions of representation. The idea that representation has to be looked at outside the electoral arena has been particularly widespread. This chapter shows however that documentation about the various dimensions of representation in France is extensive. It also claims that some features of its institutions, starting with its various specific electoral systems, can provide unique opportunities to find quasi-experimental evidence about key issues affecting electoral representation.