What kind of future worlds do experts of international security envision? This paper studies the role of experts in DC's think tanks, a relatively small world socially and culturally highly homogeneous. It underlines the characteristics of this epistemic community that influence the way its analysts make claims about the future for security. The DC's marketplace of the future lacks diversity. The paradigms analysts use when they study international politics are very similar. Moreover, the range of issues they focus on is also relatively narrow.
The paper highlights three main features of the relation between those who make claims about the future of security and those to whom these claims are addressed (mainly policymakers). First, it shows that, for epistemic but also for political reasons, the future imagined in think tanks is relatively stable and linear. This future also contributes to the continuity of political decisions. Second, the paper shows that think tanks are also "victims of groupthink", especially when they make claims about the future. Third, it underlines a paradox: scenarios and predictions create surprises. Claims about the future have a strong tunneling effect. They reinforce preexisting beliefs, create focal points, and operate as blinders when, inevitably, the future breaks away from its linear path.

Anne Daguerre

The social policy of the US welfare state is based on a liberal model of social protection. The social contract is based on the idea that individuals of working age individuals should support themselves and their dependants thanks to their earned income. However, to have a job is no longer sufficient in protecting individuals against main social risks. President Obama has been elected on the promise that he will restore the American dream, whereby individual work is rewarded by upward social mobility. However, the Obama administration faces the challenge of rising social inequality and poverty, in an extremely difficult economic context. The Great Recession has laid bare the gaps of the safety net: a growing proportion of families must choose between paying for food or rent. To understand the inadequacies of the US social protection system, it is necessary to study the structure of public assistance programmes, as well as labour market trends and the impact of the recession on low-income households. This analysis will shed light on the main characteristics of the Obama administration’s response to the economic crisis.

Antoine Vion, François-Xavier Dudouet, Eric Grémont

The study proposes analyzing the complex links between the standardization and regulation of mobile phone markets from a political economy perspective. Moreover, this study examines these links by taking into consideration, from a Schumpeterian perspective, the market disequilibrium and the monopolistic phenomena associated with innovation. It aims firstly to underline, with respect to different network generations (0G to 4G), the particularity of this industry in terms of investment return, and the key role that network standardization plays in the structuring of the market. This key variable of the standard explains in large part the income that GSM represented in the industrial and financial dynamics of the sector. The study thus explores the relations between the normalization policies, which are certainly neither the sole issue of public actors nor are they simple industrial property regulations, and the regulation policies of the sector (allocation of licenses, trade regulations, etc.). It underlines that the last twenty-five years have made the configurations of expertise more and more complex, and have increased the interdependency between network entrepreneurs, normalizers, and regulators. From a perspective close to Fligstein’s, which emphasizes the different institutional dimensions of market structuring (trade policies, industrial property regulations, wage relations, financial institutions), this study focuses on the interdependent relations between diverse, heavily institutionalized spheres of activity.

François Vergniolle de Chantal

The Republican Party’s identity as fashioned since 1964 is poles apart from the moderate conservatism that had characterised the party until then. The party ideology has become populist, religious and nationalistic. It results from Barry M. Goldwater and later Richard Nixon’s "southern" electoral strategy. The party cashed in on the discontent sown among the southern population by racial integration, and has consequently made the former Confederate States its stronghold. This shift has been so large in scope that it constitutes the main feature of US politics in the past four decades. Political initiative has since then been primarily rightwing, weakening the Democrats. When the GOP won a majority in the South, the Democratic coalition suffered a trauma it has yet to recover from. The nationalist reaction to the 9/11 attacks gave the Republicans a supplementary political base. Nevertheless, this comeback does not have sufficiently stable elements allowing for a lasting Republican coalition. The Republicans’ strength resides in the fervour that surrounds them, as well as, as we will argue, in the Democrats’ inability to define a tactic to face the Republican challenge. Yet, the balance of (electoral) power does not tip to the Republicans. Although demographical and geographical factors favour the right, social evolutions tend to favour the Democrats. The latter may lack strategy, but they do not lack resource. The situation is exactly the opposite for the Republicans.

Yves Tiberghien

Since the mid-1990s, a global political battle has developed around one of the most promising industries of the future: biotechnology. While transgenic technology showed great promise and became widely adopted in North America, it also became the target of a global resistance movement including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), key states, and international organizations. The emerging consensus among OECD countries embedded in the 1994 WTO agreement quickly collapsed after 1999, as the EU, Japan, Korea, and other countries led a counter-movement. The battle entails several dimensions—modern technology and human progress, global trade, environmental protection, health, food security, development, democratic deficit, and cultural identity—making it one of the fault lines in globalization. State policy with respect to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) includes both national regulations and support for global standards in international negotiations such as the 2000 Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. This study analyzes the stakes in the battle for global governance, the key actors, and the principal battlefields. It then focuses on the roles of two key players, the EU and Japan, and how they led the move toward a more precautionary approach. The study reveals the political mechanisms behind this transformation, emphasizing the role of emerging civil society movements as the determining trigger for policy change.