Social Protest in France Today

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


France during the 1990s was characterised by a rise of new social movements that mobilised around a different set of causes and articulated changing demands within society. These movements brought forward alternative forms of political expression and represented groups previously without voice within the political system. There was a distinct trend towards unconventional types of participation as more and more French citizens seemed to be willing to engage in political activity outside the confines of mainstream institutions. Throughout the decade, movements mobilised systematic acts of protest and engaged in demonstrations, occupations, symbolic action or acts of civil disobedience. They mobilised to defend the rights of the unemployed, to oppose the Far Right, to reject social inequalities, to challenge economic globalisation, to protect immigrant communities under attack. One study has shown that over ten thousand demonstrations currently take place in France each year, with over a thousand in Paris alone.1 In spring 2002 for instance, France was gripped by a tremendous wave of demonstrations mobilised in response to the success of the Far Right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen in the first round of the presidential elections. On May Day 2002 in a culmination of over a week of protest, more people took to the streets in a single day — nearly three million of them — than at any other time since the events of May 1968.2


Civil Society Collective Action Social Movement Trade Union Social Exclusion 
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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