There is very little academic literature available about the current economic crisis and its social impacts in France. This report includes some relevant articles from the news media. More literature is available relating to the unrest seen in 2005, and as some of that material may be relevant to the current situation a small selection has been included.
Unemployment and financial hardship resulting from the global economic crisis have contributed to strikes, demonstrations, and other forms of protest in France in 2008 and 2009. French activists have developed strong capacities for action through alliances with a range of groups (although there are some concerns about the risk of extreme radical organisations subverting legitimate political protest) and have been able to mobilise significant political forces. Between one million and two and a half million people took part in demonstrations across the country in January of this year, and as many as three million people took part in demonstrations in March, with broad popular support.
The French government is concerned about the possibility of economic hardship leading to widespread social unrest. Poor suburban areas (banlieues) are believed to be at risk of violent riots as experienced in 2005 due to tensions arising from long-term social exclusion and economic disparity. Risk factors observed in the 2005 riots include high unemployment, a high proportion of youth, low income, significant segregation between French nationals and foreigners, and failed attempts at urban renewal.
It should be noted that in France, protest is considered a normal form of political activity. Non-violent demonstrations, even very large ones, are fairly common and should not necessarily be considered a sign of social disorder in the same way that they might be in other countries.