Futurs d'antan, Futuribles Journal n° 293

Entreprises, travail

Henri Mendras, sociologue et prospectiviste


We were very sorry to learn of the death of Henri Mendras (1927-2003), who was an extremely acute observer of contemporary societies and, through his unfailingly forceful analyses, made a significant contribution to studies of the future of societies. He was a founder member of what was to become the "Futuribles group" and took part in our activities from the very beginning right up to his death, always observing the changes in Western society with a keen and penetrating gaze.
In his memory Bruno Hérault has compiled a text including substantial extracts from his works which were particularly significant markers in Henri Mendras' intellectual development.
First, La Fin des paysans (published in 1967 by Futuribles), a book in which Henri Mendras described with remarkable clairvoyance the profound changes occurring in agriculture and the life of the countryside, a "possible future" (futurible) that is still strikingly relevant. Then La Seconde Révolution française (Paris: Gallimard, 1988) and, 14 years later, La France que je vois (Paris: Autrement, 2002); in these works Henri Mendras analysed the major changes taking place in French society (what he called "belated modernity"), while showing how things that other commentators criticized as shortcomings could be read more positively: for example, "individualism brings out its opposite, the strengthening of social relationships"; "if the two-tier society is frightening, this is because equality has made such great strides that any inequality has become intolerable".

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