August Lights

La Vie des idées is on vacation. We will be back at the end of August. In the meantime, here is a selection of essays, interviews and reviews from the last few months.


The integration of immigrants: debates and observationsby François Héran.

The concept of integration poses many difficulties. It is widely rejected by those concerned, fiercely debated by researchers, hastily decided in the media sphere, challenged by foreign comparison. So many reasons to take it into consideration.

Teaching and research are inseparableby Peggy Cénac, Claire Lemercier & Alexandre Zimmer.

French public policies concentrate research resources on a few “sites”, at the expense of entire regions, widening inequalities between so-called “elite” or “mass” universities. But numerous empirical studies demonstrate the ineffectiveness of such a concentration of resources.

The silent revolution of the activity bonusby Nicolas Duvoux.

Established in 2016, the Activity Bonus was mobilized in response to the Yellow Vest movement. This measure, reserved for people who have a job, is indicative of the increasing nationalization of social protection, also at work in the reforms of unemployment insurance and pensions.

Deciding together. The citizens’ convention for the climate and the democratic challengeby Florent Gougou & Simon Persico.

As the Citizens’ Convention on Climate comes to an end, how can the proposals of the randomly selected citizens be put into practice within the framework of a democratic process? What place and form should the referendum take in political decision-making?


The post-colonial unconsciousInterview with Sophie Mendelsohn and Livio Boni, by Sarah Al-Matary.

Is psychoanalysis in danger of losing its identity by opening up to the world? On the contrary, it has been renewed outside the West, even contributing to the processes of political emancipation. This decentering, useful to all, places the discipline at the heart of the human sciences.

All academic careers. Interview with Pierre-Michel Menger.

Are teaching and research always complementary? What are the effects of project culture and competition in research? P.-M. Menger answers these questions based on the work carried out by his research team on work, employment and academic careers.

Man is silent, nature speaks. Interview with Jérôme Sueur, by Catherine Guesde.

With the lockdown, many natural sounds are becoming audible again, especially in urban environments. Listening to these sounds, as eco-acousticians do, allows us to access valuable ecological data in a sensitive way. Portrait of a growing discipline.


The aporias of property. About: Rafe Blaufarb, The Invention of Private Property. Another History of the RevolutionChamp Vallon, review by Jean-Fabien Spitz.

Private property is now sacred; and its very strict definition prohibits the remedying of inequalities and environmental challenges. But it was not always conceived in this way: it was invented by the French Revolution.

The election, nothing more, nothing less. About: Adam Przeworski, What’s the point of voting?Markus Haller editions, review by Antoine Verret-Hamelin.

What can we expect from elections? A. Przeworski urges us to be minimal: elections provide only imperfect control over the actions of governments and are not enough to counteract the political effects of inequalities, but they are the best way to resolve conflicts without taking up arms.

Politics is an art of living. About: Valérie Gérard, By affinities. Political friendship and coexistenceEditions MFInventions Collection, review by Solange Chavel.

What if, in politics, we had to let ourselves be guided by our affinities instead of wanting to construct a general and often too distant discourse? What if proximity had more value than the truth? Valérie Gérard makes this hypothesis, in an open and stimulating book.

Under Taxes, Class Struggle. About Alexis Spire, Resistance to taxes. Attachment to the State. Survey of French taxpayersSeuil, review by Benjamin Lemoine.

Opinion polls show that the French are generally demanding more public services while showing increasing reluctance towards taxes. Beyond this apparent contradiction, there is a worrying reduction of social justice to the sole tax debate.

Portrait of France in startup. About: Denis Lacorne, All Billionaires! The French Dream of Silicon ValleyParis, Fayard, review by Olivier Alexandre.

While Silicon Valley arouses fear and admiration across the world, D. Lacorne looks back at the history of a French political passion that runs from Charles de Gaulle to the current president and highlights the limits of French Tech.

Organs and orgasms. About: Sarah Barmak, Enjoy. In search of the female orgasmZones; Delphine Gardey, Politics of the ClitorisTextual, review by Cécile Thomé.

Between personal testimonies and anthropological analyses, between discourses of emancipation and debates on mutilation, female pleasure, long ignored, is today in the spotlight.

Anti-slavery in the Age of Enlightenment. About: Marcus Rediker, An Enlightenment Activist. The Unique Destiny of Benjamin LaySeuil, review by Marie-Jeanne Rossignol.

American Quaker Benjamin Lay was an early anti-slavery activist. Tracing his career, slavery historian Marcus Rediker shows his links to the radical thinking of the English Revolution of the 19th century. XVIIe century.