The role of state and society in response to change in the fishing industry : a comparative study of Britain and France, 1975-1983
The last decade has seen dramatic changes in the environment facing the fishing industries of Western Europe. This study looks at Britain and France and compares the response of government and industry to those changes between 1975 and 1983. It argues in the opening chapter that that response can be best understood in terms of the nature of the general relations which link state and society in the two countries. Thus France can be characterised as a state-led society, which has generated protectionist forms of economic policy and a 'dirigiste' style of policy making, where the institutions of the state seek actively to determine the way in which an economic sector develops. By contrast, Britain can be seen as a society-led state, in which a liberal conception of economic policy has been matched by a more consensual style of policy-making, where the agents within a sector are left to develop their own individual responses to change. Chapters two to four consider in turn the impact of political and economic change upon the structure of the two industries, the transformation of the international framework of negotiation within which the two governments dealt with the issue and the development of the institutional links between government and the fishing interest. The chapters that follow (five to eight) are organised around four perspectives on the relations between an interest group and government. These are entitled interventionist, mediatory, direct-action and self-help and each stresses a different aspect of the behaviour of state institutions and a societal interest. In all four chapters, the available evidence is assessed in terms of what we might expect that behaviour to be, given the extent of the change that overtook the industry and the political and economic character of the two countries. The final chapter reviews the distinction between a state-led society and a society-led state and suggests two conclusions: firstly, that the pattern of relations between industry and government retained its distinctive shape in the two countries, despite severe pressures and secondly, that any judgement of the relative success of the two states and their respective industries in developing a response to change depends on one's appreciation of the merits of two contrasting political and economic philosophies.