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date: 06 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues that the pervasive sense of national decline among French public opinion can only be appreciated if it is judged against the elevated height of state self-esteem over previous centuries. Since the stabilization of the political regime in the second half of the twentieth century, the state has regressed as the overarching and unifying political framework, reversing its traditional standing. Now, many of the traditional state culture’s assumptions are no longer valid, creating a disjunction between expectations about what the state should do and what it can do. While those who speak on behalf of the state endeavor to sustain the myth of its sovereignty, their credibility has become increasingly implausible as the long process of state-building has been unwinding. Thus, France remains exceptional in terms of its norms and ideas about the state, even if it is no longer exceptional in terms of the behavior of the state.

Keywords: France, state, authority, Revolution, regime, statism

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