France has a long history as a traditional European great power. But is this still the case today? The analysis in this article shows how French exceptionalism, often referred to as ‘grandeur’ is still the guiding principle of French foreign policy, but that it is being practised differently today. President Macron may be right in arguing that ‘France is back’, but it is important to note that modern French power projection or status seeking takes place through a set of very different mechanisms. The key argument put forward in this article is that French status is increasingly based on a type of symbolic power, and to understand the mechanisms through which this power is managed, insights from social psychology and Social Identification Theory (SIT) are helpful.
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