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France/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and civil initiatives  

8.4.2 Cultural houses and community cultural clubs

Lots of cultural actions come under a domain that is known in France as "popular education" (éducation populaire). This concept is grounded in notions of class, political struggle, and social transformation. It refers to an educational and social movement, introduced from the end of the XIXth century in France, which tries mainly to promote education that aims at improving the social system, and that is conducted out of the traditional structures of education and out of the institutional educational systems. So, popular education aims at the constant transformation of society and at the advent of a fairer and more united society. It can reinforce the contribution of cultural policy to social transformation.

The popular education actions are led in many establishments, mainly at local level: community and socio-cultural centres, youth clubs and associations (maisons des jeunes et de la culture, MJC), rural centres, holiday and leisure centres, etc. Social Security Offices have 2 000 community and social centres. In 2008, during the 60th anniversary of the creation of the MJC, 1460 MJCs had 630 000 members, 150 000 of which are aged between 16 and 25 years old.

At national level, popular education policies largely depend on the Ministry in charge of  Youth and Leisure activities, which has a national operator: the National Institute of Youth and Popular Education (Institut national de la jeunesse et de l'éducation populaire, INJEP). The INJEP supervises the Observatory of the youth and youth policies, as well as a resource centre that is intended for professionals and decision-makers in the sector. INJEP is also the French operator of the European programme Youth in Action. Many federations gather the actors and the establishments of popular education, and structure the sector. They are privileged partners of the Ministry of Culture.

The partnership between popular education federations and the Ministry of Culture is relatively recent. It was not until 1999 that a common charter of objectives was signed between the Ministry of Culture and several federations. Currently, eleven federations are partners of this charter: Centres d'entrainement aux méthodes d'éducation active (CEMEA), Collectif inter-associatif pour la réalisation d'activités scientifiques et techniques internationales (CIRASTI), Confédération des maisons des jeunes et de la culture de France (CMJCF), Fédération des centres sociaux et socio-culturels de France (FCSF), Fédération française des maisons des jeunes et de la culture (FFMJC), Confédération nationale des foyers ruraux (CNFR), Fédération nationale des FRANCAS, Fédération Léo Lagrange, La ligue de l'enseignement, Peuple et culture, Union française des centres de vacances et de loisirs (UFCV).

This charter recognises the role of popular education in the field of culture, and creates the National Council "Culture-Éducation populaire". The charter gave rise to multiannual agreements between the Ministry and the federations, accompanied by co-financing. These agreements were evaluated and renewed in 2012 for three years (

In February, 2013 the PACTE-CNRS research centre of Grenoble organised a colloquium in partnership with the Ligue de l'enseignement and The INJEP, on the theme "Popular Education and Globalisation. Civilisational challenges of the creative, participative and intercultural society" (L'Éducation populaire à l'épreuve de la mondialisation. Défis civilisationnels de la société créative, participative et interculturelle,

Chapter published: 17-07-2018

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