France is in crisis. In this provocative account, Timothy Smith argues that the French economic and social model is collapsing inward on itself, the result of good intentions, bad policies, and vested interests who employ the rhetoric of 'solidarity' to prevent change. French social policy is not redistributive; indeed, Smith argues, the majority of 'social' spending serves to strengthen existing inequalities. He shows how politicians, intellectuals and labor leaders have invoked the specter of 'globalization' to explain homegrown problems and delay reform. Professor Smith makes frequent comparisons with the USA, UK, Canada, Scandinavia, Germany and the Netherlands and argues that change need not follow the inegalitarian US or British paths but instead can lead to a more equal society. Written in a lively style, this is an unusual blend of history, policy analysis, economics and political commentary and will be indispensable reading for anyone seeking to understand France's malaise.
Timothy Smith is Associate Professor of History at Queen's University, Ontario where he teaches Modern European history, comparative public policy and the history of globalization. His previous publications include Creating the Welfare State in France, 1880-1940 (2003).
Preface; 1. The misunderstood French welfare state; 2. Corporatist welfare states: the residue of the past, or the wave of the future?; 3. The 'treason of the intellectuals': globalization as the big excuse for France's economic and social problems; 4. France's break with socialism; 5. Persisting inequalities; 6. The protected people; 7. The excluded: immigrants, youth, women; 8. The French exception; Index.