Economists and the French state

Special report. The economists’ state. The contribution of economic knowledge to the construction of the state as an economic actor (twentieth and twenty-first centuries)
François Perroux and the reconfiguration of economics under Vichy
By Nicolas Brisset, Raphaël Fèvre

This article aims to explore how the Vichy regime offered an opportunity for some economists to revise their vision of the state in general and of its economic role in particular. This revision involved a reflection on their own position vis-à-vis the executive, especially by trying to underpin the economist’s mission of expertise. This article will focus mainly on a small group of economists gathered around François Perroux (1903–1987), who was not only a notable intellectual figure in the regime, but also a leading scientific entrepreneur at the French Foundation for the Study of Human Problems. From this high position in the regime’s scientific production, Perroux set up a Center for the Study and Theory of Economics in order to take the discipline a step forward—an experience that was indeed brief but that did continue in a new form after the Liberation. Focusing on Perroux’s trajectory thus invites us to overcome the hypothesis of a “Vichy parenthesis” regarding French economics.

  • Vichy regime
  • Carrel Foundation
  • François Perroux
  • economic theory
  • science and politics
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