This article examines the political challenges of the European Union (EU). It explains that political theorists and scientists alike have viewed European integration as a laboratory for exploring how far the nation state, and the forms of domestic and international politics to which it gave rise, has been affected by the various processes associated with globalization. It discusses the Charter of Rights and Constitutional Treaty of the EU and suggests that the EU can be plausibly characterized as an intergovernmental organization of an advanced kind, a nascent federation of states, and a new form of post-national and post-state entity.
This chapter presents the intriguing puzzle of French constitutional politics: a spectacular increase in judicialization of French politics in the context of a flexible constitution and a politicized Constitutional Council. The state of the art is reviewed first at the international level and then within France in terms of both theory-building and empirical understanding of amending constitutions, judicialization of politics, and politicization of constitutional review. The French case, thus, provides an important case for developing comparative theory on constitutional politics and will remain a promising area of inquiry for many years to come. The chapter points to three promising areas of inquiry: the relationships between the types of government control and constitutional amendments, the patterns of judicialization, and the legitimacy of the role of constitutional review.
France and the Evolution of European Integration: the exemplary and pivotal case for broader theories
France and Europe is a topic we might expect to connect poorly to broader scholarship. The EU is often described as sui generis, and France’s role in it has arguably been unique. Yet the opposite is true. Of all the literatures on French politics covered in this volume, that on the French relationship to European integration may be most connected to scholarship beyond the French case. Early theories of integration theorized France as similar to other countries. Later work on “Europeanization” consistently situates France in comparative perspective. In both phases the French case has had an outsized impact on broader theoretical debates. This topic area has also seen the emergence of the most internationally prominent French approach to politics; the political sociology approach.
This chapter explores contemporary economic policy and state–market relations in France against the backdrop of comparative political economy debates about interventionism in the economy and international political economy debates about capital mobility and policy autonomy. Charting contemporary theoretical and empirical developments in the French case and beyond, the chapter explores how to situate economic policy within institutional and ideational context, and how interests can be brought into explanation. These three “i”s, it argues, represent different but not mutually exclusive ways to explore economic policy autonomy amidst international liberalization. It argues that insights from each of the three “i”s’ literatures have enhanced understandings of French economic policy, and informed its conduct to different degrees across the decades. It concludes with the potential for “post-dirigisme” to frame future research exploring the tension between the creeping influence of rules-based policymaking, co-existing and conflicting with enduring dirigiste practices and aspirations within French economic governance.
Riva Kastoryano and Angéline Escafré-Dublet
Ambiguous, yet proliferous, the concept of identity has taken an important place in the analysis of individuals, groups, and nations. The chapter introduces the literature on identify formation and identity politics, and clarifies why French political and sociological tradition has long rejected group identity as a notion that conflicts with the universalist understanding of the state. However, it also shows how recent studies have been influenced by the rich development of the literature on identity politics abroad and how France is now moving beyond the representative case of a universalist state. It discusses how the debate on identity has been shaped, with “national identity” on one hand, and the identity of the Other on the other hand, and how the question of identity has been crystallized on Islam. It demonstrates that French scholarship on identity is increasingly integrated into a larger scholarly community on transnational politics and practices.