Multi-level Processes and Organized Civil Society
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Edited by Jeremy Kendall
Chapter 3: The Third Sector and the Policy Process in France: The Centralized Horizontal Third Sector Community Faced with the Reconfiguration of the State-centred Republican Model
Laurent Fraisse 3.1 Introduction In Europe, organizations between market and state – understood as either ‘social enterprises’ (Borzaga and Defourny, 2001) or a ‘third sector’ (Evers and Laville, 2003) – are demonstrably significant players in political and socioeconomic terms. But, as Chapter 1 of this volume argued, this does not necessarily signify the existence of well-founded public policy at either EU or member state levels specializing in collectively supporting these organizations and their environment. In the case of France, it is perhaps a paradox to see first concrete national then local third sector policies emerging in a country that has historically privileged the state as the superordinate agent of public policy, and denied ‘intermediary bodies’ out of its reach both recognition and the right to participate in the production and expression of the general interest. The novelty of the French situation in contemporary times lies in its development of multiple specialist policy institutions in and around the national and subnational state, oriented towards the ‘social and solidarity-based economy’ and its components, which evidently struggle to cope with the legacy of the country’s politically and socially embedded statist tradition. This chapter explores this combination of active contemporary horizontal policy institution-building and chronic institutional fragility. Is the emergence of policies for the social and solidarity-based economy at the national and local levels the harbinger of greater socioeconomic dynamism in French civil society? Or is it more of a contingent phenomenon, reflecting the negotiating skills of the sector’s representatives inside and outside the state, in...
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