Olivier Donnat sketches here an overview of major trends in the evolution of French cultural practices derived from a survey by the "Département des études et de la prospective du ministère de la Culture et de la Communication" (Department of Studies and Outlook of the Ministry of Culture and Communication). It is based on a representative sample of the French population aged 15 and over surveyed on an eight years interval. It has thus the merit of having been repeated four times since 1973.
Comparing the results, the author was able to identify four major trends:
- The spectacular rise of audiovisual and music listening. Olivier Donnat first underlines how much the equipment in households has progressed (television, hi-fi, VCR, computers, video-games...) along with a strong diversification of offers (TV programs, diskettes video, CD...). Screens and music have massively invaded the French daily life, transforming the habitat into a space of personal growth and leisure without provoking a phenomenon of cocooning.
- On the other hand, the reading of press and books tends to diminish. They are no longer a privilege way to access to knowledge nor a sign of social distinction. They are a necessity rather than a pleasure.
- The use of some cultural facilities such as libraries and mediatheques increased spectacularly but the use of others, such as museums, only moderately. These activities are still very much associated with particular social groups (managers, intellectual professions, students).
- Last, the author perceives an increasing diversification of cultural practices (i.e. the rise of outside cultural events, festivals, streets shows...) and the development of artistic and cultural activities among amateurs.
Although these surveys are an account of what has happened over the past with no overt extrapolation to the future, the author reminds us that social change comes mainly through the passing of generations. By identifying the activities of youth, he therefore reveals some trends which are likely to last.