Given the intellectual force of liberalism, its political appeal, its economic effectiveness and its historical significance, why is it so unpopular among French intellectuals? Why does it elicit so little serious discussion? And why is it the object of so much confusion, so many clichés and misunderstandings? Is it simply out of resentment, because intellectuals feel that the market does not afford them the material and symbolic rewards that they believe they deserve? Is it just because they prefer to play a critical role in a society where capitalism is triumphant? Perhaps, but these reasons do not explain everything and they certainly dont explain the systematic rejection of liberal thought in France. A sociologist of knowledge rather than of social determinism, and a specialist in belief systems, Raymond Boudon ruthlessly analyses the cognitive mechanisms that make liberalism so hateful in the eyes of French intellectuals. The result is a keen, detailed review of the clichés that have encumbered discussions for more than thirty years. Raymond Boudon, a professor at the University of Paris-IV, is a member of the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques. He us the author of numerous works, most notably LInégalité des chances, La logique du social, LIdéologie ou lorigine des idées reçues, LArt de se persuader, Le Sens des valeurs and Déclin de la morale? Déclin des valeurs. He is the co-author, with R. Leroux, of Y a-t-il encore une sociologie?
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).