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Jerome - what do you think about the relationship of the riots to the French culture of protest? I read an interesting study a few years back by a political scientist at the University of Amsterdam studying the environmental movements in various countries. He correlated the readiness of popular political movements to engage in street protest to the "openness" of the political system, the relative ability of non-state political actors to gain input into policy. France, he found, was the Western European country where non-state actors had the least input into policy, and where there was the largest level of mass protest.

Not sure what to make of the thesis - the guy was Dutch, and they're constantly bragging (or whining) about how their system allows all kinds of interest groups to be bought off through informal incorporation into policymaking, making real conflict and protest very rare and making the political sphere rather safe and dull (until recently anyway). But there certainly is a vastly greater amount of public protest in France than in comparable European countries. Might riots in poor ethnic neighborhoods be more of an expression of the French political arrangement, which (on this thesis) makes it difficult for many groups, not just Muslims, to have an influence on public policy unless they show their strength on the street?

by brooksfoe (brooksfoe@yahoo.com) on Sun Nov 6th, 2005 at 10:51:11 PM EST

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