Toward an apolitical unionism? The institutional context of student participation in France through the FAGE case

By Marion Leboucher, Pascale Dufour

Between 2005 and 2016, the face of the French student movement changed. The Fédération des Associations Générales Étudiantes (FAGE) has now supplanted the historically predominant Union Nationale des Étudiants de France (UNEF) as the leading national student organization. By focusing on the work of representation and mediation of student associations vis-à-vis the state and university governance, we show that specific institutional arrangements have fostered the emergence of FAGE, and that its internal organization enabled it to develop and consolidate its position. In the end, it appears that the formal framework for student participation has had the effect of de-conflictualizing relations between national student associations and public institutions, marking a shift from a form of student unionism focusing on struggle to one concentrating on the management of student and university life.

  • participation
  • student representation
  • relationship to politics
  • student movement
  • neo-institutionalism
  • France
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