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date: 22 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter aims to characterize the French administrative system and its contemporary transformations, by identifying the dynamics and diversity of the research conducted on this subject in the disciplines of sociology, political science, and in history. Adopting a comparative perspective, it emphasizes the richness of research programs on the French bureaucracy, its institutions, regulation, reforms, and agents. Four pillars of the French administrative system are identified (centralization, territoriality, administrative law, and administrative elites). The chapter emphasizes the renewal of academic studies of French public administration, exploring the various dimensions and effects of neo-managerial reforms (policy elites, street-level bureaucrats, professional groups). The chapter also characterizes the “French touch” in the study of French public administration and claims that French scholars of the bureaucracy, influenced by stimulating sociological perspectives, offer an interesting dialogue with the approaches that are currently dominant at the international level, and might sometimes even reinvigorate them.

Keywords: French administrative system, elites, centralization, Grands Corps, administrative reforms, new public management, street-level bureaucrats, Crozier, Bourdieu, administrative law

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