Research and political decision-making in France
Jean-Claude RICHEZ Head of Research, Studies and Training Unit (UREF) National Institute of Youth and Popular Education (INJEP) Marly-le-Roi
A considerable amount of dynamic and inventive research on youth issues is currently being carried out in France1, alongside public youth policies at both State and sub-national government levels that consume significant human and financial resources2.
However, there is no real organic relation between the research done and political decision-making, despite the fact that France has long had tools that can be applied to both politics and research and that political decision-making increasingly tends to integrate research outcomes, notably via the development of an evaluation culture.
Research on youth issues in France
The scope of the research on youth issues is relatively extensive. It covers a variety of disciplines and researchers in many different laboratories, although to date there is no research centre solely dedicated to youth issues and no formal coordination
between the researchers working on the issues.
Roughly three hundred researchers are currently working on youth issues.
disciplines involved are, in order of importance: sociology, psychology, the economic sciences, epidemiology, political sciences, ethnology and history. The educational and communication sciences could also be included in that list if we consider them as being distinct from sociology or integrating other disciplines. Young people’s living conditions, expectations and values have been analysed regularly via in-depth studies, along with numerous polls and marketing studies, with the latter for the most part commissioned by private companies.
Public authorities (different State administrative entities) also frequently commission both their own internal research services and public entities to carry out polls and studies likely to add to the sum of existing knowledge in the field. The Research, Studies and Statistics (DREES) department in the Ministry of Social Welfare carries out studies on living conditions and poverty. The Observatory of student life researches student living conditions. The Centre for studies and research on qualifications (CEREQ) does permanent research into young people’s entry into
1 Consult Chantal de Linares and Jean-Claude Richez, Une meilleure connaissance du domaine de la jeunesse, France, European Consultation, December 2003 and the file: INJEP en direct, n° 53, July 2007, « A quoi sert la recherche ? », p. 8 à 11.
2 See: Commissariat général du plan, Report from the commission chaired by Dominique Charvet, Jeunesse, le devoir d’avenir, La Documentation française, Paris, 2001.