The Politics of Symbols: Reflections on the French Government’s Framing of the 2015 Terrorist Attacks
GB : Oxford University Press
169 - 195 p.
Politics of Symbols, Terrorist Attacks, The French government
In January and again in November 2015 France was confronted with a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris. These ‘events’ shocked France (and the world) and were presented by actors and observers as turning points. Yet, as all significant events, they give rise to a plurality of interpretations. We argue that the strategy developed by the French government is a good example of how contemporary politics mobilises the symbolic, a dimension of public policy that is often neglected. Using interviews with key advisors of the President and the Prime Minister and analyses of official speeches and performances in the first weeks after the attacks, we show how the government endeavoured to impose its framing of the attacks through rhetoric, symbols and performance in order to coproduce the ‘events’ as moments in which it acted decisively to unite the Nation.