Friday, 25 January 2013

'France and the French have changed for the worse' - what do the French think?

Bloggers who choose to include email contact details in their profiles are quite likely to be contacted by some of their readers, and that has been the case for me too. Emails I receive are mostly from people outside of France who read blogs to keep their finger on the pulse of what is happening here. Some are French, some aren't, but most of them have lived in France at some point in their lives and all of them appreciate certain aspects of French life and French culture.

There are also one or two who are considering or have considered coming here/coming back here to live, and I have been struck by the fact that one of the doubts they express most about the idea is that France and the French may have "changed for the worse". I have my own opinions on that of course, and they are expressed elsewhere in this blog's content, but I thought that today I'd post the results of a survey by the Ipsos Institute with the aid of other institutions called 'France: the new fractures'.

Here they are, and I'm not going to comment them in any way, apart from saying that they have been published in almost all of the French online press outlets and are resulting in a lot of debate. So, have France and the French changed for the worse over the years?


France and its place in the world
Over 50% of those surveyed think that 'the decline of France is inevitable' in both economic and cultural terms. Even more - 3 out of 5 - consider globalisation to be 'a threat to France', that 'France should do more to protect itself from the rest of the world', and, concerning Europe, that France should 'reinforce its decision-making powers, even if that means limiting those of Europe'.

French politics
Over 70% think that 'the democratic system in France functions rather badly', over 80% say that 'both male and female politicians act principally in their own personal interests' and 62% consider that 'most politicians' are corrupt.

'From distrust to rejection, withdrawal to fear of others, resentment to hostility and pessimism to catastrophism'
The survey's authors consider that the results indicate that 'the sentiment of fear is now profound' and that Poujadism (the defence of the common man against the elites, the rejection of modernism, and anti-intellectualism) has taken hold in the country over the last 30 years. They add that there is another, complementary, sentiment which pits identitarianism against authoritarianism..

86% of people think that 'authority is a value which is criticised too often', and 87% believe that 'France needs a real boss who can restore order' in the country'.

Foreigners, Muslims and increasing tensions
The study found that 70% of people think that 'there are too many foreigners in France' and just over 60% consider that French people 'don't feel at home in their own country like they did before'. There is much negative feeling vis-à-vis Muslims, with 74% of people saying that they tend to 'take over the jobs of French people'. Muslims are often associated with 'integrists' and the Muslim religion is said by 3 out of 4 people to be 'intolerant and incompatible with French society.'


Those are the results, and I would be interested to read what you think of them.



  1. I hope you can view this :

    Nothing to do with your post but I thought it was funny.

  2. Nadege

    Very funny.

  3. Good one Nadege, if you like Stephen Colbert. I prefer Bill Maher. A lot smarter, and funnier, and he usually comes up with original material (and stays away from cliches and tired jokes commonly heard on Fox News...) as demonstrated here, an oldie but a goodie:

    As for the Colbert interview, I thought this part was a lot better (as in "actually informative...") -- Too bad Colbert was more interested in showing off than in asking good questions, since the other gentleman actually KNEW about France, but...

    Back to Mr Fripouille: I just read a few of your latest posts. They are interesting to me, as I live in the United States. I have to say, it sounds to me you may have been in France too long: You are starting to sound as... what was it?... "pessimistic" as the French themselves... :-)

    One of the greatest things about France - and a point most expats never make in their posts - you never get shot, or arrested, for complaining about your host country... :-)

    You will have to forgive me. I have spent a little bit too much time this week on expat blogs and am starting to wonder why most of these people are still in France, if life there is such drudgery (don't bother replying. I think I know the answer.)

    Oh, and in case it was not obvious, I, for one, love France (and the French,) and do not think: [my homeland] has changed for the worst..." -- In fact, after 16 years in the US, I am considering moving back there sooner or later.

    Bon weekend.

    1. Ah, you know what French Girl, I am anything but pessimistic, truth be known. A bit "qui aime bien chätie bien" sur les bords, okay, but rien de nasty. :)

      Moreover, I'm not an expat in fact. I've lived her for 25 years and am self-employed.

      Bonne soirée à toi.

    2. You may be right, Fripouille. Sorry. Bad week here, with too much negativity around me online and otherwise. Colbert's jokes may have pushed me over the edge. As for the "expats" I was referring to (cry babies as I call them,) the answer is easy to find: I will stop reading their blogs. See? Problem solved. Yours is not one of them, btw. Sans rancune? Bon weekend!

  4. I like Bill Maher better than Colbert, too. I just thought that it was funny but of course Bill Maher's was very logical while Colbert wanted to get the big laughs. Maher has better writers and is more intelligent.
    I don't think I could go back and live in France. I have been here longer than you Veronique, almost 35 years. I came when I was young and my accent is not very strong. I have been blessed working in a wonderful industry, traveling a lot and meeting amazing people. I doubt very much my life would have been as enriched as it has here if I had stayed in France. But your point about France is very well taken and I am happy for you, you feel that way.
    "Fripouille" is not french bashing at all, but has a different point of view of what is happening in France.
    You and I can see what is going on in the US. Life has changed a lot here too and will change even more,
    probably not for the better. And yet, it didn't have to be as I believe corporations and greed too over a beautiful country who once, was the best country in the world.

    1. I see what you mean, and I agree. I will never regret spending time living here in the US. My son was born here after all. I guess you can take some French Girls out of France, and Europe, but you can never take France out of this French Girl :-)

  5. I think that France has changed, but I also think that the US has changed, and other countries have changed as well – this is just the way it is. The US is a lot more conservative now than when I moved to San Francisco in the 1960s. Just look at Egypt, or Tunisia – what about Ethiopia? I was in Addis years ago and it is a lot better now. I feel the US is the dominant culture nowadays because it is still so big and rich. While in France I constantly see American shows on TV – this is a way to bring out the US culture and its materialism. The culture of the US has been centered on business. Greed was there already when Dickens came over but it keeps growing – so France and the rest of the countries now have the same problem. Most countries don’t like foreigners – you should listen to Arizona wanting to build a wall along the Mexican border, just like Israel has done. I was born in France, my mother was French but my father was naturalized French. He was Armenian with an awful long name – my maiden name. I had many problems growing up in France because of that name. I had the same problems coming to the US – was thought a foreigner in each country with the same results!

    The French have always been pessimistic, and “étroit d’esprit” (don’t know how to translate.) But, I also found that, for years, French did not discriminate against blacks like they still do in the US. I see a lot more mixed couples (Black/white, Asian/white or others) in France than in the US – granted I don’t live in New York City or Los Angeles, but NYC or LA are just a small part of the US. I think it is good that foreign workers come to France as they bring new blood and new ideas. The little bourgeois French don’t like Muslims, but the religious Americans don’t either. I was watching a show on Norway – they have welcomed people from many countries and are doing well. I read that in international polls French people are considered very happy, better educated with the best health care in the world – the crime rate is much lower in France than in the US - by a considerable margin. I’ll think about it some more, as this is getting too long for a comment. Media generates a lot of these ideas – it is their business, after all.

    1. Good evening Vagabonde, how goes it?

      That first paragraph sums all this up very well indeed and I appreciated the historical perspective. Thanks. That is indeed just the way it is, and concerning racism, I couldn't agree more that the French are no more racist than anyone else. This blog is about the French so I combat what racism there is in France on it, but if I was in the States and running a blog about the States it would be exactly the same. That said, I think America gives those citizens with 'foreign' origins more of a chance to succeed. Comparing how many people of African origins (is that the PC expression right now? :) succeed in American politics, diplomacy and the military to how many Maghrebins succeed in France is edifying. France has just about zero national politicians or others with Maghrebin (or African) origins and that isn't going to change any day soon. America? Obama, Powell, Rice, MLK...the list is long. And a good third of the Senate and Congress have those origins too. Why is this so? I don't know for sure, but maybe it's because America began to better integrate immigrants into society a long time before France did. And that's not difficult because France is still a long way off accepting almost any immigrant-origin people in positions of power. Rachida Dati and Rama Yade don't count of course, because they were 'parachuted' into government without being elected politicians by Sarkozy, who wanted his 'token' quota of foreign-origin politicians. A smart electoral move, sure, but it doesn't change the overall reality.

      As to having a right to moan as a foreign worker, too right! I've never claimed benefits and as a single man with a higher than average income I get hammered for tax. I'm not asking for the right to vote, no. But the right to moan? HELL YES!!! :)

  6. I just want to add something – if foreign workers are upset in France with the way things are, then they have a right to speak up. Here, in the US, there are many things that upset me and I get very mad when people say “if you don’t like it here, then leave.” I pay my taxes, I live here and if I complain, then it is because I want it to be a better country. It is shameful the way France has treated their North African workers – how many are CEO or just executives of French companies? Workers, from wherever they are, have a right and a responsibility to lobby for change in the countries where they work, to get good results, to claim their rights. Loving a country means wanting it to be the best it can be and not abandoning it when things are going down. If France still stands for Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité it must mean it and work at it – for all the people who live there.

  7. Thank you "Vagabonde" for your enlightened comments. "Small minded" is "etroit d'esprit" I would think.

    Thank you "Fripouille" for your wonderful posts and Veronique as well! I love to read different points of view where everybody can express themselves and still respect each other's differences. Nobody wants to see France fail and the US either. "Vagabonde" is right and earlier, I was thinking about Scandinavia's example about its foreign work force. Again, it all boils down to having an education and doing what is right. I was at CDG from a flight from Los Angeles 3 years ago. I was talking to a Mormon missionary who was going to Toulouse for 2 years. A french woman overheard us and said to the young man : "I am glad you are hear to bring the french some religious wisdom as they really need it". (M, I sent you a private email)

    1. Hi Nadege, and yes, I have some email catching up to do. I'll get on it tomorrow, promise.

      You heard a French person say that the French need a dose of Mormonism? Fair enough, if that's what floats her boat, but I doubt very much whether most of her compatriots would agree with her. I imagine that flogging religion to the French is like trying to sell headphones to the deaf! Still, yet another of the many and fascinating French paradoxes is that despite laïcité etc etc the Catholic church still plays a relatively large role in the country's debates on social issues, as we're seeing with the gay marriage issue.

      "Nobody wants to see France fail and the US either." AMEN to that. Hit. Nail. Head. I'm thinking of overall national characteristics here. America is the biggest power in the world and as such is historically bound to play a large part in world affairs. But there are abuses of that sometimes and that's where the French step in with their more cautious approach to declaring wars. It's the same thing for capitalism, where the outrageous sub-prime, banking and markets abuses in the USA led to the world financial crisis. France has led the field in saying all that needs to be reined in and I totally agree.

  8. OMG I type too fast. I meant to write "I am glad you are HERE. Everywhere I leave messages I either forget to write a word or make unforgivable spelling mistakes. Sorry!!!!

  9. putain! Des leçons de démocratie de la part des anglo-saxons .Abou Grhaib

  10. Hooo, all these comments! I just had time to post one last night as I was busy working songs and I had a long rehearsal today. So here I am now with a beer, a joint, and silence. Until Wednesday, when we have a concert.

    Hello again French Girl, and absolutely 'no rancune', as you say. Besides, there was nothing to be mad about in your comment. I am sorry though to hear that you've had some negative vibes around you recently. I've come to the point where I can't handle them any more. You know, stuff like if people start arguing about Jews/Arabs/Americans/the French or whoever are bad news and start ranting racist things about them I just bid my leave and, well, leave.:)

    That said, I did like that Colbert sketch, despite the rather 'cheap laughs' aspect you quite rightly mentioned. There was one joke I didn't know, which I found rather funny. "The French can never agree about anything. That's why there's all that scaffolding up at the Eiffel Tower site - they haven't been able to agree on what to build yet."