23 Rue Clovis, 75005 Paris, France
Christophe attended Lycée Henri-IV.
Christophe attended the École Normale Supérieure.
Christophe attended Lycée Henri-IV and École Normale Supérieure. He completed a thesis in the 3rd cycle of history under the supervision of Pierre Vilar and a State doctorate under the direction of Maurice Agulhon.
Christophe Charle was a researcher at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique from 1978 to 1991 then a professor at the University of Lyon III. He has been a professor of contemporary history at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne since 1993 and was an associate professor at the Institut d'études politiques in Paris from 1992 to 2001. He is a specialist in social and cultural history.
Since 2003, he has been a senior member of the Institut Universitaire de France (Chair of Comparative History of Western European Societies) and, since 2000, Director of the Institut d'Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine.
He has published numerous books on the history of intellectuals, academics, writers, theatre, the press. Among his works are "Social History of France in the XIXth century" (1991), "The Republic of the university" (1994), "The Intellectuals in Europe in the XIXth century" (1996, new edition 2001), "Paris end of the century, culture and politics" (1998), "The Crisis of Imperial Societies" (2001), "Theaters in capitals, the birth of the entertainment society in Paris, Berlin, London and Vienna, 1860-1914" (2008), "Discordance of time. A Brief History of Modernity" (2011), "History of universities XII-XXIth century" (2012) and "Homo Historicus. Reflection on history, historians and the social sciences" (2013). In 2015, he published "Cultural Deregulation, an essay on the history of cultures in Europe."
Charle presents a wealth of social data to depict the dynamic activity of the bourgeoisie’s attempts to attain status and power in France’s Thud Republic. He gives the most attention to three social groups: corporate business, bureaucracy, and the university. He uses statistics on marriage patterns, education, and social origins and lists detailing which intellectuals and bureaucrats served on which committee, along with life stories to show the struggles of people trying to move up the social ladder during the late nineteenth century. During the time of the Third Republic, there was sufficient social mobility to allow for upward movement, thereby creating a situation of intense competition. Charle points out that previous to the start of the Thud French Republic, admission to the ranks of the elite was based on social connections and an old family name. This system changed due to the advent of electoral politics and expanded educational opportunities, among other things. Thus, the elite became more of a meritocracy, the deciding factors of the level and quality of education replacing membership in the aristocracy. The author argues that specialization of position, or bureaucratization, and the emergence of democracy became significant factors in the shaping of the new elite. Through the recognition of opportunities for advancement, the ascending bourgeoisie began to focus attention on securing more status and power and formed strategies to secure their goals. The old guard adapted, unwilling to give their hold on power, and acquired the skills and knowledge to maintain at least a portion of their dominance. This was particularly evident in the higher echelons of the business world.
Charle considers the impact of the Dreyfus affair, a major polarizing factor in French society at the end of the nineteenth century. Shifting social patterns and the emotions they inspired led the author to view this event in a different light. Based on his research and analysis of the times, Charle rejects the conventional view that the Dreyfus controversy was rooted in antiSemitism. Rather, he argues that it was the result of jealousy and tension within the new elite. Charle views the Dreyfus affair as part of a pattern of ideological and political struggles that resulted from competition between different strata of the elite.
Christophe is a member of the sponsorship committee of the French Coordination for the Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence and president of ARESER (Association for reflection on higher education and research), an association he founded with Pierre Bourdieu in 1992.