The last decade of French politics has been marked by a rise of social movements that articulated new struggles and expressed changing demands. The new movements gave voice and representation to groups that had been marginalised by political institutions and excluded from mainstream society. Sarah Waters explores a 'new generation of movements' within French political life and seeks to examine their meaning and significance. Challenging recent theoretical assumptions and particularly 'new social movement theory', this book argues that it fails to take account of the fundamental logic and purpose of contemporary French movements. The outstanding feature of these movements is that they share a strong civic dimension, affirming and defending the rights of different groups in society. These are movements about citizenship and about the rights that this notion entails. Far from being new, French movements reveal ongoing civic processes whereby marginalised groups at particular points in history mobilise collectively to affirm their rights. The role of contemporary French movements is to redefine the nature and parameters of citizenship so that it reflects the changing social realities of France today.

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