introduction
gender in the making of
the french social model
During the lively campaign surrounding the French vote on the European
constitution in May 2005, much of the discussion centered on whether or
not a vote ‘‘oui’’ or ‘‘non’’ would protect the ‘‘French social model’’ from the
advance of unbridled Anglo-Saxon liberalism.∞ Indeed, at the same time as
the European Union has sought to extend broad social protections to its
member states, the viability of that model was thrown into question not only
during the campaign over the constitution but also in October and Novem-
ber 2005 when French youths rioted in working-class towns around Paris
and in other major cities. The debate about the ‘‘social model’’ and its ability
to survive in an era of intense global competition and persistent social exclu-
sion is one of the central questions that vexes the separate states and publics
of Europe, as well as the European Union itself. Characterized by a broad
array of social policies, particularly state-generated welfare provisions, fam-
ily policies, employment protections, labor agreements, and pensions de-
signed to alleviate the e√ects of economic fluctuations and social changes on
families and individuals, that model has been based on notions of social
solidarity and rights that include the state’s obligation to provide for the
welfare of its citizens—what came to be known as ‘‘social citizenship’’ in the
language of the British sociologist T. H. Marshall.≤
The historical process by which social groups realized full citizenship in
Marshall’s construct is by now reasonably well known.≥ A first stage involved
the acquisition of civil rights such as the rights to work and make contracts,
the right to bodily integrity, and the rights to freedom of speech and reli-
gion. In the second stage, states extended political rights to male citizens,
primarily through the granting of su√rage. But because the extension of civil
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