With The Society of Confidence, and Of the Economic Miracle, Alain Peyrefitte has illustrated that growth is not primarily founded on the material wealth of a nation, capital, or even on work. Development is intrinsically linked to mentalities and values, which are the essential elements of economic, political and social modernity. Using this thesis as a starting point, the Institute of France organised a conference which brought together economic and technological historians, sociologists, criminologists, and experts from across the world, amongst which were R.Boudon, S.Eisenstadt, D.Landes, and S.Lipset. The wide spectrum of debate runs from the history of religious mentalities (P. Chaunu, J.Delumeau), to penal philosophy (D. Szabo). The comparative outlook of this book allows the reader an insight into the hidden depths of confidence, from Switzerland (J.-F. Bergier), to Japan (Terushi Hara), right through to the Third World (P. Moussa).
The 20th century has been marked by the growing awareness of the unbearable gap between developed and under-developed countries. And the most outstanding fact of the next century will probably be the worsening in this imbalance. In order to find a solution to the under-development scandal, Alain Peyrefitte attempts to understand the miracle of development. He examines the successive miracles which have allowed a part of humanity to pull through the turns of dictatorship or anarchism, violence and destitution.