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A cultural battle: French minitel, the internet and the superhighway

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Hugh Dauncey


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French experience of the Minitel videotex system introduced in the 1980s created a culture of awareness in French society of new information technologies. In France, the Internet and the coming 'information superhighway' build on established practices, but challenge both society and State because of their USA/Anglophone origins and because of the demand-led anarchy of the proliferation of services in the highly regulated French audio-visual sector. At the same time, the egalitarianism of the Internet can be useful to the French State, improving access to information in a society theoretically based on meritocracy but where knowledge and culture are highly centralised. This paper looks firstly at the history and use of Minitel (a now ageing national technology developed by the French State), and secondly, examines the growth in Internet use in France and the attendant problems. It then analyses issues of culture and public policy vis-à-vis the Internet which are challenging French 'exceptionalism', and concludes by assessing the way France's plans for the information superhighway reveal how she hopes to defend her cultural identity.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Dauncey H

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Convergence

Year: 1997

Volume: 3

Issue: 3

Pages: 72-89

Print publication date: 01/09/1997

ISSN (print): 1354-8565

ISSN (electronic): 1748-7382

Publisher: Sage


DOI: 10.1177/135485659700300306


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