Recent events in the French media have shed light on the extensive protectionism that exists in the French Film Industry. An analysis is presented to attempt to explain the protectionist policies of the government.
Three theoretical perspectives are presented. The first explains the protectionism based on neo-classical economics, and the theory of comparative advantage. France benefits from those comparative advantages such as the language and the culture, elements that cannot easily be reproduced abroad. This theory, while being valid, has only weak empirical support.
The second theory bases itself on neo-protectionist theories, where the power of the state is reflected in its culture. The purpose of the state is dual. On the one hand, it seeks to remain the cultural hegemon over society in order to keep control over it, and on the other, it manages to uphold the social order established by the elite. Such assumptions are made from analyzing the historical evolution of film, and the role of state intervention in the development of the industry.
The third theory bases itself on post-modern constructivist theory. This expresses the need to protect the culture from outside influences in order to keep it as pure as possible.
Indeed, current commercial trends leave the industry vulnerable to the risk of globalization, and this could eventually lead to the weakening of national cultures. The actions of the state need not be rational, meaning economically sound, and indeed, empirical data suggests that they are not.
Finally, modern technology opens for the possibility of bypassing the current protectionist measures beyond the control of the state. The handling of this new element in the debate will be crucial to the development of the film industry, and indeed government intervention in the future.
State intervention is therefore more the action of a blend of politically and culturally driven causes. A unified political arena recognizes the importance of film as a tool to achieve both long-term political and social goals.