Dilemmas of Public/Private Partnership in France

  • Edith Archambault
  • Judith Boumendil
Part of the Nonprofit and Civil Society Studies book series (NCSS)


The field of social services is characterized in France by a mixed structure, which has favoured the enormous growth in this field of the third sector. The Johns Hopkins Project has shown that ‘social services’, that is facilities for specific groups of people such as families, handicapped, elderly, young people and adults in social difficulty, income support and maintenance, emergency and relief, and charities, is by far the major area of non-profit involvement, in spite of the sustained expansion of governmental provision in this field.1 This field accounted for 29 per cent of the third sector’s operating expenditures in 1990 and 38.5 per cent of total third sector employment, employing about 300,000 wage earners. Apart from being the largest field of non-profit labour, non-profit employment in this field dominates employment in the area of social services (58 per cent of total employment) and has almost doubled since 1980, contrasting with a significant decrease in general employment.


Social Security Social Service Wage Earner Home Care Service Social Difficulty 
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  1. 1.
    But this area is also that of the major expansion of the Welfare State: according to Eurostat, in 1992, France was the second European country after Denmark (31.4 per cent) in terms of level of public social spending: about 29 per cent of French GDP.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Indeed, centuries of conflict between the state and any form of intermediate bodies explain the strong centralization in France; the central government fought successively against: regional governments and religious minorities (Protestants and Jews) during the Old Regime, the corporations, and the Church and its congregations, which ran non-profit schools and hospitals until the 1789 Revolution, during the 19th century, the State fought against the labour movement and the political associations. It is only at the turning point of the 20th century, that the third sector ceased to be illegal, with the still-living 1901 Act. This historical sketch explains why most of the non-profit sector is relatively recent.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Three levels of local government exist in France: the communes—the town councils (about 36,000), the départements—the counties (96), and the régions (22).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Aide sociale is the term used for the social welfare money or in-kind transfers outside the Social Security scheme. It is based on the principle of assistance and proximity, as opposed to insurance on which social security schemes rely. It is financed by taxes and not by social contribution.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Which has received a transfer of funds.Google Scholar
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    That is most of all associations run by the 1901 Act, since there are very few foundations in France (less than 500). Mutuals also play a significant role in running social establishments.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    The ‘school war’ is one of the most ancient and sensible quarrels which agitates France from time to time throughout the 19th and the 20th centuries. From a monopoly of the church in the field of education till the 19th century to a republican school fighting against the catholic influence during the end of 19th century and the first part of the 20th century, the education sector in France takes roots in a tumultuous history. Indeed, after the 1905 Disestablishment of the Church, the conflict between Catholicism and republican ideology focused on school and became more and more political. Even nowadays, the position towards private schools is still a sensitive issue between the Right and the Left.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    The first facilities created by the parents were named wild nurseries.Google Scholar
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    The establishments provide internship, day care, night care, care in social emergency cases, home care, housekeeping services, and work facilities for the adults. Work facilities include workshops offering an activity with adapted work conditions to seriously handicapped adults (Centres d’aide par le travail et ateliers protégés) and centres providing training and vocational rehabilitation to less-gravely handicapped adults with the aim of improving their labour skills in order to integrate them into the labour market (centres de éducation, réadaptation et formation professionnelle, équipe de préparation et de suite du reclassement).Google Scholar
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    The average per capita income of elderly people is now higher than the average per capita income of the working population.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    The Département is the level of local government which is more active in financing social services, through Aide sociale.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    This is why they are now developing their fund-raising activity when it was not necessary in the 1960s or 1970s.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    The 1975 Act on the management of social institutions initiated a real public policy towards social establishments in France. It fixed the evolution of the per-diem reimbursement among the establishments, and various rules related to these institutions.Google Scholar
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    Gidron, Kramer and Salamon identify four types of third sector/government relationship in the delivery and financing of the services: the Government Dominant model, in which the government is the main provider and financer of the services, opposed to the third sector dominant model. In between these two opposite models lie mixed cases: the dual model in which non-profit organizations and government act in different spheres, with few interactions between them, and the collaborative model, where roughly speaking the non-profit organizations provide the services, and the government finance them.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Quart-Monde, fourth World, is a neologism suggesting that the Third World is inside France also.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    The emplois jeunes is a public programme which has recently been implemented by the government to fight against unemployment among young people. New contracts of five years in government administration, local communities and associations are proposed to 18–25 year olds. The government wants to create or incite about 700,000 jobs (350,000 in public agencies and 350,000 in private entities).Google Scholar
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    Contrary to Germany, for example, this umbrella organization has no political or religious affiliation.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    The largest ones, the national ones, those which mix advocacy with service provision, and obviously, the establishments themselves.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edith Archambault
    • 1
  • Judith Boumendil
    • 1
  1. 1.Sorbonne, Matisse, Maison des Sciences EconomiquesUniversité de Paris 1Paris Cedex 13France

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