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J7eacute;rôme, in your diary Article Deconstruction (vol. 5) - French fear you wrote
France did make the choice 30 years ago, when unemployment first struck, to protect those in the work market and have flexibility borne by a small subset of the population: the old, the young and the immigrants. It has been trying to reverse course ever since, but the behaviors incentivised then (in particular, the preference by companies to invest in machines rather than hire people, while asking for more deductions on labors taxes and yet more freedom to fire people) have remained.
and then
Again, the French State has given up its authority, because French elites have been lured by the money promised to them, as part of the elites, in the globalised financial world. They've tried to keep the power and legitimacy the French State gave them, and grab the money they "deserve" as elites (on the back of the people) - and then they act surprised that the people, that used to have less power but a better access to wealth in France, are unhappy about that obvous breach in the French social contract?
Given that France has made a conscious choice to exclude whole swathes of the population from the usual job protections, thereby hindering cosial mobility into the middle class, and that the elites are breaking the social contract which you describe as "the elites treat the people well so the people will let the elites enjoy political and economic power", I simply cannot believe that the elites would allow the Grandes Écoles system remain equitable. In an increasely unequal system, where the inequality is consciously fostered by the elites in breach of the "social contract", access to the schools that define elite status itself becomes too precious to leave up to a purely meritocratic system.

Any comments?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 01:19:14 PM EST
Migeru,

That's the danger of talking generically of "elites". The ones who gets to decide are not the broad 3% that went through the GEs. Think of it like wealth and inequality in America. Not so shocking if you talk of the top 5% vs the bottom 95%. The real divide is the 1%/99% split or even better, the 0.1%/99.9% split.

For France, the real elite who gets to decide is a minuscule sliver of the broader elite: a few dozens new inductees from les Grands Corps : Inspection des Finances, Inspection du Tresor, Corps des Mines, maybe Corps des Ponts (and not even in my opinion). Add a few individuals who get to slip through by less orthodox ways (some US universities, politics, a few heirs and self made individuals) and that's that.

The rest just gets along, buys in the system and tries to dig in its own little niche. Or if you don't buy in the system and you don't like your niche, uou get the fuck out of here.

At the very top, the mechanism is not really selection but cooptation. If you get in the Corps, the alumni take great care of you, steering you between positions, helping you build your social network, making the phone calls, etc. If you are 25 years old and you get this type of proposition, you just don't say no [cue in soundtrack from The GodFather :)].

The interesting thing is that, as far as I know, there has been no dynastic strategy at play. This structure is probably too young as it really came in full existence after WWII and even the first generation wasn't so interested in dynasties. It may change.
by Francois in Paris on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 02:03:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you get in the Corps, the alumni take great care of you, steering you between positions, helping you build your social network, making the phone calls, etc. If you are 25 years old and you get this type of proposition, you just don't say no [cue in soundtrack from The GodFather :)].
To me this sounds like the way Opus Dei is alleged to conduct its recruitment, to be honest.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 02:16:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's a pretty apt comparison. They just go by a different creed : one goes by Escrivá's scribblings, the other, by mathematics and the three points essay :)
by Francois in Paris on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 02:40:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At the very top, the mechanism is not really selection but cooptation. If you get in the Corps, the alumni take great care of you, steering you between positions, helping you build your social network, making the phone calls, etc. If you are 25 years old and you get this type of proposition, you just don't say no [cue in soundtrack from The GodFather :)].

I guess it depends on the kind of Grande Ecole, but generally speaking, how old are you when you gradate from these schools?

That's the danger of talking generically of "elites". The ones who gets to decide are not the broad 3% that went through the GEs. Think of it like wealth and inequality in America. Not so shocking if you talk of the top 5% vs the bottom 95%. The real divide is the 1%/99% split or even better, the 0.1%/99.9% split.

Can it be said that the large majority of Grandes Ecoles graduates are against the CPE?  (It's pretty clear that GE graduates on ET -- most notably Alex in Toulouse and Jerome -- are strongly against the CPE, but can this be said of GE graduates in general?)

If so, is it generally for reasons of principle and solidarity with their fellow youth?  (This is obviously the case with Jerome and Alex as well as others on ET, but I am talking about GE graduates at large.)

Or is it because there is a serious concern that a significant percentage of the CDI jobs that normally they would have no problem getting after graduation might now be offered as CPE positions instead?  If most GE graduates get their diplomas at the age of 25, I guess it would not matter as much, but if many are under 25, then the possibility of having their CDI opportunities turn into CPEs could be quite troubling.   On the other hand, do GE graduates feel confident that any potential précarité of being handed a CPE instead of a CDI will be outweighed by assured help from and "cooptation" into the Grandes Ecoles alumni network?

(I am assuming that because they are the top 3% of French job candidates right out of school, very few GE graduates who want a CDI actually have trouble getting one soon after graduating.  Is this a mistaken assumption?  Also, my question does not apply, I think, to GE graduates who are looking to become fonctionnaires.)

Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire

by marco on Thu Mar 30th, 2006 at 12:25:27 AM EST
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