Although the social and political history of postwar France has not been narrowly determined by economic changes, there can be little disagreement that the process of accelerated industrialisation which commenced around 1950 is the central datum for understanding recent French social development. Besides its more or less direct effects on class structure and the composition of the political agenda, the 'modernisation' of the economy producing (and produced by) a rapid rate of growth provoked identifiable changes of attitude in most sections of the population and a discernible impact on cultural and intellectual activity. The economic transformation was experienced with acute self-consciousness, as the prodigious literature of all kinds designed to interpret it bears testimony. 1