The Resistances of the School Map: The Limits of Political Voluntarism in Policy Making

By Lorenzo Barrault-Stella

This article deals with the resistances of the school map to political reforms, touching more generally upon the conditions of change and the elected members’ limits of voluntarism (national and local) in the lead of policy making. An analysis of the debates linked to the decentralization of 2004 and to the reform of 2007, as well as the study of the concrete elaboration of the map in three departments (from ethnographic observations, from interviews, and from archives) allow the reader to grasp the conditions of maintaining the division into sectors of secondary schools. The 2007 reform constituted a symbolic policy as paradoxically, government’s stated resources simply did not match its ambitions. Since 2004, the school map is the responsibility of the France’s General Councils, and those who attempt to change it are limited by technical constraints, by the natural inertia of the school map, and by the necessity to negotiate different institutional supports to legitimate their intervention. So the resistances of the school map underline the limitations faced by introducing political change in policy making.

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