Dictionnaire de la Science Politique

Authors: Hermet, Badie, Birnbaum & Braud
Summary: In about 320 words the concepts of centralization and decentralization are compared, with examples and a brief historical overview on French system is proposed.
Centralization and decentralization are two basic concepts when a reflection "on the state and on its relationships with the peripherical powers" is needed.
The more centralized a state, the more hierarchical its administration, controlling uniformely the whole territory, for which the French state is the perfect exemple. Tocqueville confronted the former with the English system, where the extreme political centralization is combined with an administrative decentralization favouring the political autonomy of local life.
If the centralized state option was in France a firm principle during the ancien r‚gime and the Republic, from the 19th century on, it appeared a decentralizing tendence that, in contemporary age, brought to the administrative reform in the 80s. This led, among others, to a transformation in local power sharing between authorities