Ideological uncertainty and the path of convergence: the impact of the 1970s in France and Britain

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This article looks at the fracturing of certainties that began in the 1970s, at the end of the period described as ‘les trente glorieuses’ in France, but a period that was also, to a more modest extent, a period of economic expansionism and intellectual optimism in the U.K. At the level of political discourse and policy options, the economic crisis of the late 1970s prepared the ground for a marked divergence between France and the U.K.: on the one hand, the ‘socialisme aux couleurs de la France’ that was to characterize the ambition of the socialist years under François Mitterrand, and on the other, a return to the corner-shop capitalism of thrift and endeavour that was at the heart of Margaret Thatcher’s remedy for the U.K.’s ills. Looked at, however, from the perspective offered by theories of convergence, underlying that manifest divergence was a deeper gravitational pull to the same path as both countries endured the loss of old ideological certainties and grappled, as we shall argue, with a new ideology that is no less powerful and ubiquitous for refusing to declare itself as such.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-330
Number of pages14
JournalModern and Contemporary France
Issue number3
Early online date15 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016


  • France
  • U.K.
  • society
  • ideology
  • convergence


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