On the eve of crucial elections, this double issue of the Revue française de science politique aims to better understand the new architecture of power in France. Read More
The politics of organization
Philippe Bezes, Patrick Le Lidec
The new divisions of labour of the stateThis article explores how the rulers have repeatedly modified the boundaries of public bureaucracies and the division of labour within the state since the early 1980s, either by creating agencies or by promoting mergers. This transformation of the organisational forms of the state is here considered as an original and rationalised technique of governmentality through which politicians, but also top bureaucrats and experts, try to intervene on the specialization of tasks, the distribution of power and public policies. The article first offers a large state of the art about scholars on agencification and mergers, and a critique of the main theories analysing these processes. It defends a political sociology approach that emphasizes four intertwined dimensions of the politics of organization and its manipulation of state architectures.
Strategies of the state captured by rates
The invention of a French debt management office
This article analyzes the implementation in France of an international bureaucracy standard for debt management in the early 2000s. Shaped by international organizations to send a credible commitment and message of technicisation and depoliticization of debt to financial investors, the agency was redesigned to suit the specificities of the domestic government. Far from being an example of rational, voluntary depoliticization postulated mechanically by the model, the controversies raised by the construction of the Agence France Trésor re-articulated in a new way the demands of the global capital environment, the will for reform of political representatives and the political capacities of the Treasury Department and civil servants.
The uses of specialization in the police
The discrete forms of police public management
This article analyses the morphological evolution of a public-safety police station. It highlights the police-services' over-specialization, and studies the different mechanisms that cause this dynamic. It demonstrates that specialization is a constant phenomenon in the institution's history, inscribed in managerial objectives since the beginning of the 2000’s. However this organisational strategy cannot be reduced to the New Public Management. As integrated in parallel transformations of police, specialization enables the police superintendents to adapt their services’ activities to the political and police hierarchical requirements and to the "results’ priorities", while arising their subordinates’ loyalty.
Bringing the Health Care State Back in
The political hesitations of an integration by merger : the case of French Health Regional Agencies
Frédéric Pierru, Christine Rolland
Talking about a healthcare "system" for a French health sector historically fragmented, compartmentalized and in which State bureaucracies and sickness funds struggled to regulate professional and political strategies, has long been a misnomer. As a counterpoint to the international literature on the introduction of competition and privatization logics in healthcare systems, and based on the case of the Regional Health Agencies, the article argues that the “disorganization” of French healthcare sector is confronted not to market fragmentation but rather to a multifaceted integration process, bringing out actors both more massive but also linked by dense relations. This integration process is however under strong institutional constraints which limit its scope and fix its content.
The new boundaries of the French territorial state
Philippe Bezes, Patrick Le Lidec
The merger mania within public bureaucracies has been widely explored in academic literature on the transformations of the states. Based on a process tracing approach, this article explores the mechanisms of institutional change in the major merger process of the French territorial state (the ministerial field units at regional and departmental level and the prefect system) from 2007 to 2009. While searchingly studying the various sequences of this reform process, the article tests the influence of four causal mechanisms to understand the transformations of the French territorial administration : the influence of the political executive on the structural choices ; the diffusion of legitimate rational myths ; the role of institutional entrepreneurs in reorganizations ; the influence of bureaucratic politics in the redesign of the boundaries of public administrations.