In May 1968, France experienced a political and social upheaval that shook the regime to its foundation.
May 1968, also called May 68, is the name given to a series of events that started with a student strike in France, which broke out at a number of universities and high schools in Paris.
In Homo Academicus, Pierre Bourdieu defined May 68 as a critical event, the chronological roof of a general crisis born of the sudden conjunction of independent causal series.
Alain Touraine defined these events as a new social conflict. It was like the revolt of a new generation according to Egdar Morin, and an institution's crisis according to Michel Crozier.
The sociological constructions are different, and a whole conception of these events is missing, because it was defined as a revolt , a quasi-revolution , an imaginary revolution and a cultural crisis . Though each of these qualifications put the accent on some elements of the protestations, none succeed in giving an account of the dynamic of the mobilization, and of its consequences.
In 1967 the student movement started in France, creating an amelioration of the conditions of their daily life. This movement met few echoes. In 1968, the movement of 22 March took over the relay of the contestation, led by some small groups such as the anarchists, the enraged people from René Riesel, who became famous due to the occupation of Nanterre University. The main character of this movement was Daniel Cohn Bendit who became the symbol of the reappraisal of the authoritarianism. The causes of this movement were diverse according to the analysts, but all of them revolve around the idea that a great rigidity erected barriers in human relationships and mores in the whole society.
[...] The existence of this potentiality cannot be understood in terms of the material conditions of people, but only in terms of the structure of social relations in a capitalist society. The social conditions and consciousness of students and workers already existed before 1968, but did not lead to general strikes or movement aiming to destroy capitalism and shake up the society”. A new element, which was not regular but unique, appeared in May. It represented a radical break with what was known before. [...]
[...] Between 1958 and 1968, the number of students in France went from 250000 to 950000. This growth had several consequences. The transformation of the student's resulted (the recruitment was not limited anymore to the heirs) in crowded amphitheatres. There was restlessness about job opportunities. From a sociological point of view, the group's dynamic was developing during the 60's. The mode was to debate but social divides were still extremely rigid. There was also the aspect of economic and sexual emancipation of women, the diffusion of modern means of contraception, and the lack of familial control. [...]
[...] There was incomprehension on the events, but a seeping sense of anger and frustration in the whole society was about to explode. Over the weekend, defense and action committees demanded the release of all the arrested students. Strike committees were increasingly taking over the functions of civil administration, and dual power existed. Trade union leaders entered negotiations with the government, (which was expected since one month). They had achieved a deal, but the workers rejected it. They wanted more than just better wages or talk about the unions' rights. [...]
[...] In France, and only in France, there was a reciprocal support among the students movement and the workers movement, and the spark of the protestation set the companies ablaze, becoming a general strike paralyzing the whole country due to the parallel occupation of the firms and universities, to reach its height at the end of May in a political crisis which undetermined the Gaullist system. The development of the parallel action was transformed in a ‘critic moment”, where anything was possible, and where the future was undetermined, and perspectives were unforeseen and unforeseeable. [...]
[...] May 68 is still important in the political speeches of the right parties, and also of the In the movement against the CPE (the hiring first contract) last year, sociologist and political people established a link between this event, and those of May 68. May 68 is a constant historic reference in public debates, but often in a pejorative sense. Some say that May 68 opened the laxity of the society of that era, but we can think that it is a shame to confuse laxity and freedom. [...]
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