“May 68”: A window of opportunity for a senior official on the sidelines

Jacques de Chalendar and the politics of higher education
By Christelle Dormoy-Rajramanan

Based on archives, interviews, and testimonies, this study aims to follow the trajectory of Jacques de Chalendar, a senior official from the Finance Inspectorate during the French “May 68” events. This Gaullist aristocrat, at the time in disgrace, took advantage of the crisis situation to become an expert on the matter of university reform. He succeeded in being recruited into the two cabinets of the National Ministry of Education that had replaced the initial one. This individual case exemplifies the possible effects of the “events” on a specific biography. It highlights the role of individuals, in this case responsible for educational policy, in the course of the events. The study of this trajectory and its encounter with this particular historical moment contributes to the sociology of policy-making in the context of a crisis.


  • political crisis
  • May 68
  • sociology of decision
  • higher education public policy
  • political event
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