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Tradition and adaptation : the social universe of the French foreign ministry in the era of the First World War

Jackson, Peter (2010) Tradition and adaptation : the social universe of the French foreign ministry in the era of the First World War. French History, 24 (2). pp. 164-196.

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Abstract

Attempts to ‘republicanize’ and ‘democratize’ the Quai d’Orsay before 1900 had limited impact on the practices and predispositions of the foreign ministry personnel. More important was the ministry’s response to changes in the international sphere in the late nineteenth century and again after the First World War. The explosion of international trade and introduction of new communications technologies vastly expanded both the speed at which international politics took place and the amount of information required to manage foreign policy. The institutional reforms and restructuring of 1907, mostly the handiwork of Philippe Berthelot, were a response to these transformations. Among the most important consequences of these reforms was the emergence of a new generation of increasingly professional officials, better equipped to adapt to the challenges of the post-1918 era.