Part of the French Politics, Society and Culture Series book series (FPSC)


To understand French politics or indeed the political life of any country, it is not enough to look at what is happening within mainstream institutions and structures. This can only ever tell us one side of the story. We also need to look at what is happening outside this context within society itself. When people feel strongly about an issue, when they have a grievance to air, when they wish to voice an objection, they may make their views known to politicians or within parties. But they may also choose to express themselves in a multitude of other ways, by launching their own campaigns, by taking to the streets, by setting up new groupings or even by resorting to violence to make themselves heard. The term social movement is now widely used in the social sciences to refer to actions undertaken collectively by individuals and groups in society that are intended to advance a cause, to defend rights and freedoms or to express a political demand, These are moments when ordinary people speak for themselves and consciously participate rather than allowing others to speak on their behalf. Movements are important because they can tell us a different story to that told by established institutions and politicians. Formed within everyday life and mobilising people at the grassroots of society, they can paint a very different picture to that seen ‘from above’ within the prevailing institutions of the system.


Social Movement Social Exclusion Political Life Undocumented Immigrant French Society 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Sarah Waters 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of FrenchUniversity of LeedsUK

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