Arnaud Mercier pinpoints a radical transformation in the conception of society, as the facts of life are more and more characterized by the pervasive decline of institutions, increasing deregulations, flexibility, risk-taking and highly individualistic behaviours. From then on, the main stake for those in power, is to accompany French society throughout this profound change, to provide responses for a sustained adaptation. To understand the process of this evolution, Arnaud Mercier first analyses the crises of the forms of social organizations which until now upheld the cohesion:

  • The crisis of the Welfare State. Its slow decline no longer preserves the link between persons and community as well as between the persons themselves.
  • The crisis of the wage society. It is going through a crisis, correlated to serious uncertainties in career paths.
  • The family crisis. Its waning influence induces a lack of confidence in its cohesive role as an institution (some even allude to the fall of the family institution).
  • The crisis of political cohesion. Generated by a growing complexity in the conduct of political affairs, it is expressed by the French’s loss of confidence in their political elite.

Faced with such loss of control, loss of confidence and points of reference, the study puts forward a few suggestions:

  • Deciphering through these confidence crises, the need for a greater political, economic and social interventionism, to introduce the social security which the market cannot provide. Responding to this”political expectancy”.
  • Upholding an “ideal of justice”. The French find their Judiciary System is failing, but want more and more of it to respond to various aspirations.
  • Improving the status of civility, of wishing to live together without which it is impossible to “develop cohesive forces in society”. School in particular is expected to do a significant job.
  • Giving citizens access to decision-making, among others, following the example of the Assizes Jurors. Hardly committed, demotivated by a political sphere which seems fairly remote from them, the French are indeed pessimistic regarding the way they can influence politics.
  • Supporting new ways of exerting citizenship to reconcile the French with the public sphere: community life, appeal to citizens’ expertise, or a more developed participative democracy.