The formation of the French economy: The making of a collective entity

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)
By Thomas Angeletti

The French economy is a relatively new entity, taking shape in the first half of the twentieth century. This article traces the history of its emergence. It shows the role of economics and economists in bringing it to light and, in so doing, giving it a surplus of existence. First, we follow the work carried out by economists in the interwar period to accumulate evidence of the consistency of this entity and to document its nature. Second, we show that it was only in the years following the Liberation that the French economy was truly constituted and publicly recognized, and associated with a new concern, that of finding the required means to orient and control it. Third, we argue that the formation of the French economy fostered a redefinition of the state, which found in it a new field of intervention, a new category of public action, destined to become central in the second half of the century.

  • french economy
  • economics
  • national economy
  • collective entities
  • economic policy
  • economists
  • state
  • quantification
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