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Denis Barbet : “Grenelle”

(Traduction : Fiona Simpkins, MCF Civilisation britannique,

Speaker : Denis Barbet

Topic : “Grenelle”

Summary : The term “Grenelle” is studied here in light of three intertwined perspectives : historical, political and linguistic.

The history of the word is first explored : approximately ten more or less successful rounds of negotiations have been introduced under the banner “Grenelle” between the conference gathering trade union representatives, employers and the government that took place Rue de Grenelle, at the Labour Ministry, from 25th to 27th May 1968, and 2008. In addition, more than 150 demands for the organisation of such “Grenelle” negotiations were made by all sorts of different actors, notably representatives of interest groups, trade unionists and politicians.

The political and institutional stakes of the main instances then come under scrutiny. Most notably, the organisation of the environmental “Grenelle” launched by Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007, is set in the particular circumstances of electoral competition and the beginning of a presidential mandate ; it appears as a co-production between the State and what is commonly called “civil society” (certain environmental NGOs), and resembles “demand for offer”. In terms of public policy, the process is associated by the participants to a “new model of governance”, to a form of “participative democracy” that tends to transform the system of social relationships.

Finally, the lexical dimension of the term is brought to light : the praxonymic antonomasia that the expression the or a Grenelle constitutes is studied over a long period (forty years in the case of Le Monde). Several morphological and syntaxic clues show that this term has considerably evolved, and singularly so over the last two years, along its way to lexicalization, although it remains far from a linguistic stasis.

An analysis of the discourses uttered by the actors, journalists and “ordinary” internet users conveys indications as to the semantic sedimentation of the word and the conditions of its use.

Key words : Antonomasia, Grenelle, lexicalization, negotiation, political onomastics.