may, 2017

24may12:30 pm2:00 pmEvent OverFeaturedDemocracy Futures | Revolutionary Woes: Liberté, égalité and France’s contemporary crisis of fraternité12:30 pm - 2:00 pm Event Organized By: Sydney Democracy Network

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Revolutionary woes: Liberté, égalité and France’s contemporary crisis of fraternité

The emblematic French Republican principles of liberty and equality were crystallised during its late eighteenth century period, as revolutionary forces combined to abolish both the absolutism and privileges of the ancien regime. Respectively, these negated freedom from the oppressive state and equality, and paved the way for political representation and social and civil rights. This same era also gave birth to a very specific French concept of citizenship: political membership conferred through the active participation of individuals to formulate the general will of ‘the people’. Its revolutionary move was to conceive of citizenship through the universalistic principle, and so destroy differentiated privilege and establish egalitarian rights and civic obligations for all within the polity.

Undoubtedly, contemporary multicultural France is vastly different from that of the Revolutionary period. Yet, the fundamental notion of the republican citizenship, that living together in society, le vivre-ensemble, “requires agreement on basic values” is very much championed today. As are the republican ideals that realisation of the general will can only be attained through citizens all subscribing to the same values in the public sphere.

This raises a central question linked to the concept of universality in citizenship: exclusion. Of France’s three revolutionary valuesliberté, égalité, fraternité – this paper posits that the latter is most tenuous, since it challenges the nation’s culturally diverse populace to engage in the difficult republican project of living together, and thus democratically overcome hierarchies and exclusionary communities.


Abi Taylor is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Government and International Relations, supervised by Professor John Keane at the Sydney Democracy Network, and is the recipient of an Australian Postgraduate Award. Abi’s research focuses on destabilising our inherited concepts of the citizen and citizenship, and examines the ways in which irregular migrants juggle precariousness, vulnerability and bureaucracy to produce of new forms of citizenship and “being” political.


(Wednesday) 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm


226 Seminar Room

Department of Media and Communications, John Woolley Building (A20) level 2, University of Sydney


Sydney Democracy