Dirigism revisited ?


In French society and politics the relationship between the state and the civil society has always been rigid. This follows from the old values of De Gaulle's fifth republic where state orchestred heroic policies and grand strategies for the society were the consensus policy - the state acts and the (civil)society re-acts. This idea of the state as a leader has coined the French term Dirigisme which has become an institutional ideology in the French society stating that the state, often through these so-called heroic policies, exclusively will set a course and that the society consequently should follow this. One of the consequences of this policy is that the dialogue with civil society is suspended which often results in confrontations in the implementation phase of policies.

This process of policy-making has changed a lot during the course of the Fifth Republic and has on a whole moved from Dirigism to Co-option, but it is crucial to understand that some areas have moved less than others towards decentralization - the recent mass demonstrations in Franc mirror this; see article from the Economist here (walled from non-subscribers). It shows that remants of the tough relationship between civil society and the government still lingers in a society struggling to keep unions happy even if it means to run state owned enterprises with huge losses to follow.