Reforming the administration through social sciences. The pioneering attempts of the French Ministry of Finance (1965-1972)

The birth of administrative sociology
By Florence Descamps

Following the Algerian War, the first governments of the Fifth Republic committed France to a policy of economic modernisation and social and cultural development, calling upon emerging social sciences to shed light on the transformations of French society. Public administrations also had to transform themselves in order to better adapt to new government objectives. Between 1963 and 1972, the Ministry of Finance discreetly initiated several social science research programmes around central government departments in order to rationally determine the administrative reform policies it deemed necessary. Drawing on unpublished archives, this paper reveals the little-known role of the Ministry of Finance in the financing of social science research, and more particularly, in the birth of a sociology of public administrations in the second half of the 1960s.

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