With its unique blend of political history and political theory, this book is a welcome addition to the series on Politics, Culture and Society in the New Europe. Nick Hewlett begins his fascinating study with a discussion of the various ways in which the concept of democracy has been interpreted. He continues by tracing the effect of France's revolutionary tradition on the theory and practice of democracy since the Enlightenment, looking in particular at both republican democracy and direct democracy. Hewlett examines the implications for democracy of profound social and political conflict in France and offers an unusual critique of the institutions and structures of formal politics, suggesting that their relationship with democracy is more tenuous than is often assumed. The political philosophy of 'new liberals' such as Luc Ferry and Marcel Gauchet is also discussed in detail. Thought-provoking, original and closely-argued, this book explores some key aspects of politics in France whilst making a strong case for greater direct participation of ordinary people in politics.
Nick Hewlett is Professor of French Studies and Chair of the Department at the University of Warwick, UK. His previous publications include Modern French Politics (Polity Press, 1998), Contemporary France: Politics, Economics and Society Since 1945 (with Jill Forbes and Francois Nectoux, Longman, 2000) and Democracy in Modern France (Continuum, 2003).
1. Introduction: the contested notion of democracy; 2. Democracy and the Legacy of Revolution; 3. Conflict, coercion and violence; 4. The Institutions and Structures of formal politics; 5. The New Liberalism; 6. Political science, democracy and the study of politics; 7. Conclusions; References; Appendices