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Book Sections Year : 2007

French Top Civil Servants Within Changing Configurations

Patrick Le Lidec


The top civil service under the French Fifth Republic is usually considered to be a distinctive, closed and powerful social group within the state. Many scholars underscore that the early Fifth Republic has accentuated the historical French pattern of a centralized political system with elitist institutions and an administrative system which offers both a high degree of autonomy to its administrative system and great opportunities for its top civil servants to occupy key administrative and political positions. Since the early 1980s, important shifts in the political, institutional, social and economic context have considerably modified the environment in which senior officials operate and on which their power and influence depends. National policies such as decentralization, nationalization and privatization and other changes, such as those resulting from EU membership and changes in parties in power have transformed the roles, work and conditions of top civil servants. Many have argued that the higher civil service remains unchanged and unreformed. However, this view may be misleading. The aim of this chapter is to examine the dynamics of change in the top civil service and to identify more changes, not necessarily radical breaks with the past, than are usually recognized. As a large and heterogeneous group, the higher civil service reveals and reflects some of the transformative dynamics which affect the French state.
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hal-03417762 , version 1 (05-11-2021)



Philippe Bezes, Patrick Le Lidec. French Top Civil Servants Within Changing Configurations: From Monopolisation to Challenged Places and Roles?. From the Active to the Enabling State, Palgrave Macmillan, pp.121 - 163, 2007, 9781403903198. ⟨hal-03417762⟩
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