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France in Crisis: Welfare, Inequality, and Globalization since 1980 Paperback – November 22, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0521605205 ISBN-10: 0521605202

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France in Crisis: Welfare, Inequality, and Globalization since 1980 + Has the European Experiment Failed?: The Munk Debate on Europe (Munk Debates) + Where Have All the Soldiers Gone?: The Transformation of Modern Europe
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (November 22, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521605202
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521605205
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,318,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"...a must read for all those who wonder why the French welfare state is in such trouble. It is a polemic--in the best sense of the word--about the failures of political leaders in France, on the left as much as the right, to address the underlying weakesses of the national system of welfare and work or to redress the continuing inequities in French society." Vivien Schmidt, Boston University

"This is a remarkable and wonderful book. It should be read by those interested in all aspects of French culture and in the welfare state across the globe. ...a hard-hitting, yet balanced and well-researched book that is bound to be both controversial and convincing." Peter Baldwin, UCLA

"Here is the book on contemporary France. Why is the French quality of life so high? But at the same time why has France gone so badly wrong? How has the French welfare state evolved into an instrument of privilege and exclusion? No observer of Europe, France, or international economics can do without this vitally important book." Tyler Cowen, Professor of Economics, George Mason University and Director of the Mercatus Center and the James Buchanan Center for Political Economy

"Timothy Smith's fast-moving and tightly-reasoned France in Crisis cuts through the smokescreen of misinformation which veils the French social model. He exposes the pretentions of intellectuals, the inequities created by dysfunctional institutions, the gaps between promise and performance. Smith's message to the French is clear: we have met the enemy, and he is us." John Gillingham III, Univ. of Missouri, St. Louis

"Globalization is the source of France's current economic problems, right? Think again. Tim Smith argues that the failures of the French welfare state are the result of its own wrongdoings, which French politicians have persistently failed to address. Yet in spite of its forceful critique of contemporary French economy and society, France in Crisis offers a hopeful argument that, even in an age of globalization, governments still possess a certain margin of maneuver to conduct autonomous policies and tame the worst effects of the market while achieving full employment." Sophie Meunier, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies

"France in Crisis features extensive notes, an appendix listing significant French social legislation, easy to follow in text definitions of terms such as 'social market economy' and 'corporatism' and a concise, bulleted list of possible solutions in the final chapter. Smith acknowledges the successes of France's welfare state, particularly some aspects of the health care system, but he does not shy away from constructively criticizing the shortcomings of a nation umbilically attached to a gargantuan State. This volume is not simply a rant against French social policy, but a sort of how-to manual for creating economic and social solidarity." - Christy Wampole, Stanford University

Book Description

France is in crisis. In this provocative new book, 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' and the specter of globalisation to prevent change. Professor Smith makes frequent comparisons with the USA, UK, Canada, Scandinavia, Germany and the Netherlands.and argues that change need not follow the inegalitarian U.S. or British paths but instead can lead to a more equal society.

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By T. Walter Scott on January 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a very enlightening cross-disciplinary look at where the French welfare state finds itself today. The author does a wonderful job of harpooning the self-delusional assumptions the French make about their government's social programs. Likely, this won't be warmly received in France, but challenging the status quo is no way to win popularity contests. The United States and Canada could do with a similar treatment from this author.

From a stylistic standpoint, I think it is important to note that this is not just another dry academic tome. The text is quite lively and there are more than a few colourful turns of phrase thrown in for good measure.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Long Distance Biker on September 21, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
France's political class gets the pounding it deserves. The book is academically researched, so there are agreements with other analysts, and disagreements with others. The need for research can make some of the points several times, but overall, the origins of France's problems are clear.

A word about "since 1980". As with any history, it has to stop at a date near the publication date. A 2012 reader can see that many of the problems covered have continued. They show no sign of abating, and the reasons are clear from the book's analysis. Recently there have been new events in France and Europe which are important to a 2012 reader, but necessarily absent from the research. Even so, the book's analysis of the political class "since 1980" lets a reader project some effects into the present. Eventually, historians will be able to analyze what France and Europe are like today. Hopefully, they won't ignore the early political class origins of long-term problems.
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